Mead's Sulphur (Colias meadii W. H. Edwards)
Wing span: 1 1/2 - 2 inches (3.8 - 5.1 cm).
Identification: Upperside of male deep reddish orange with wide, dull black border; female lighter orange, border containing orange spots. Underside of both sexes greenish-yellow, with hindwing white spot circled in red.
Life history: Males patrol open tundra for females. Females lay eggs singly on host plant leaves, which are then eaten by the caterpillars. Third-stage caterpillars overwinter.
Flight: One flight from July-August.
Caterpillar hosts: Plants in the pea family (Fabaceae) including clover (Trifolium) and Astragalus species.
Adult food: Flower nectar including alpine sunflower and asters.
Habitat: At or near treeline in high mountains, tundra, subalpine meadows.
Range: Restricted to the Rocky Mountains from Alberta south to Colorado.
Conservation: Not usually required.
Management needs: Not reported.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
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:
Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown. 1980. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman. Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo. Tilden, J.W. and A.C. Smith. 1986. A Field Guide to Western Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Add Toliver, M., Holland, R., and S.J. Cary. 1996. Distributional data for New Mexico Butterflies. Privately published. Albuquerque, N.M.