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Species Phoebis sennae - Cloudless Sulphur - Hodges#4228

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Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Pieridae (Whites, Sulphurs, Yellows)
Subfamily Coliadinae (Sulphurs and Yellows)
Genus Phoebis
Species sennae (Cloudless Sulphur - Hodges#4228)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Explanation of Names
Author: Linnaeus
Named after Phoebe, sister of Apollo, and after Senna, its preferred host plant.
Adult: upperside of male wings lemon yellow or pale greenish-yellow with no markings; female forewing with small dark spot, usually a narrow blackish outer margin, and a few vague dark dots near tip. Underside of hindwing with two silver black-rimmed spots in both sexes.

Caterpillar: usually pale green and marked by a yellow stripe on each side and black spots in rows across each abdominal segment. (1) Above and below the yellow stripe there are usually small areas marked with blue.
There is also a yellow form that occurs when it feeds on yellow flowers of its host plants. The later instars of the yellow form have a dark transverse band across each segment (see image).
Southern United States; often migrates north in late summer/fall, sometimes reaching northern states and southern Ontario (see US distribution map). Large numbers return south in the fall.
Permanent resident in the tropics, occurring south to the tip of South America.
Tropical forests and areas of regrowth with woody members of the pea family (1) (2). Disturbed open areas including parks, yards, gardens, beaches, road edges, abandoned fields, scrub.
Adults fly throughout the year in the south; northern migrants fly late summer-fall. (1)
Caterpillar feeds most commonly on Senna, Cassia and some other woody and herbaceous legumes (1). Some species of Cassia now in genus Senna (3)? [No; Cassia and Senna are two distinct and different genera. RM]
Life Cycle
Breeds continuously in the tropics; usually two generations per year in the southern United States. (1)

1. Caterpillar, early instar. 2. Caterpillar, later instar. 3. Prepupa. 4. Pupa. 5. Eclosion. 6. Adult female. 7. Adult male
See Also
Usually in Texas, Florida:
Large Orange Sulphur (Phoebis agarithe) male is bright orange above with no markings, and female is either pinkish-white or yellowish-orange above (see images)
Orange-barred Sulphur (Phoebis philea) male is bright yellowish-orange above with reddish-orange bar on forewing, and reddish-orange outer margin on hindwing; female is either off-white or pale yellowish-orange above with submarginal row of broken dark smudges (see images)
Print References
Milne (1)
Scott, #50, p. 204, color plate 12, fig. 52--chrysalis (2)
Allen et al., pp. 44-45, photo of caterpillar (3)
Glassberg, p. 58, plate 11 (4)
Brock and Kaufman, pp. 74-75, photos of adult, larva (5)
Internet References
Georgia Lepidoptera (live images of all life stages)
Butterflies and Moths of North America; USGS (live adult image of male by Paul Opler, plus description, biology, food plants, flight season, habitat, distribution, status, references, US range map)
Butterflies of Canada (pinned adult image and overview of the species in Canada)
Works Cited
1.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.
2.The Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide
James A. Scott. 1992. Stanford University Press.
3.Caterpillars in the Field and Garden: A Field Guide to the Butterfly Caterpillars of North America
Thomas J. Allen, James P. Brock, Jeffrey Glassberg. 2005. Oxford University Press.
4.Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East
Jeffrey Glassberg. 1999. Oxford University Press.
5.Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Focus Guides)
Jim P. Brock, Kenn Kaufman. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Co.