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Butterflies of California -- Colias alexandra

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of California

Queen Alexandra's Sulphur (Colias alexandra)
JPG -- species photo

Queen Alexandra's Sulphur (Colias alexandra W. H. Edwards)

Wing span: 1 5/8 - 2 1/4 inches (4.2 - 5.7 cm).

Identification: Upper surface of male bright yellow with pale yellow at wing bases; wings edged by narrow black border crossed by yellow veins; cell spot small. Female yellow, sometimes white, with forewing border faded or absent. Underside of hindwing of both sexes green-gray; cell spot white with no surrounding ring.

Life history: Males patrol open areas for females. Eggs are laid singly on top of host plant leaves, which the caterpillars eat. Late-stage caterpillars overwinter.

Flight: One flight from May-August.

Caterpillar hosts: Various plants in the pea family (Fabaceae) including milk vetch (Astragalus), Lupines (Lupinus), and clover (Trifolium) species.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers including blanket flower, milk vetches, and others.

Habitat: Road edges, fields, meadows, sagebrush flats.

Range: British Columbia south and east to eastern California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Conservation: Not usually required.

Management needs: Not reported.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

References:

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford  University
     Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies.  Houghton-Mifflin 
     Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

Brown, J.W., Real, H.G., and D.K. Faulkner. 1992. Butterflies of Baja 
     California. Lepidoptera Research Foundation, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Comstock, J.A. 1927. Butterflies of California. Privately published, Los 
     Angeles, Calif. [Facsimile available from 	Entomological Reprint 
     Specialists, Los Angeles, Calif.]

Dameron, W. 1997. Searching for butterflies in southern California.
     Flutterby Press, Los Angeles, Calif.

Emmel, T.C. Editor. 1998. Systematics of western North American butterflies.
     Mariposa Press, Gainesville, Florida.

Emmel, T. C. and J. F. Emmel. 1973. The Butterflies of Southern California. 
     Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Science Series No. 26.

Garth, J.S. and J.W. Tilden. 1986. California Butterflies.  California Natural
     History Guide 51. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los 
     Angeles.
     
Langston, R.L. 1981. The Rhopalocera of Santa Cruz Island, California. Journal
     of Research on the Lepidoptera 18: 24-35.     

Miller, Scott E. 1985. Butterflies of the Califorenia Channel Islands. Journal
     of the Research on the Lepidoptera 23: 282-296.     

Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised 
     edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Orsak, L.J. 1977. The Butterflies of Orange County, California. Museum of 
     Systematic Biology, University of california, Irvine.

Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. 
     Privately published, Denver, Colo.

Steiner, J. 1990. Bay Area Butterflies: The Distribution and Natural History 
     of San Francisco Region Rhopalocera. Hayward, Calif.: Hayward State 
     University, Masters Thesis.

Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. 
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass.

Tilden, J.W. 1965. Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Region. California 
     Natural History Guide 12. University of California Press, Berkeley and 
     Los Angeles.
Queen Alexandra's Sulphur (Colias alexandra)
distribution map
map legend

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