North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of New Mexico

Mead's Sulphur (Colias meadii)
JPG -- species photo

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.
Mead's Sulphur (Colias meadii)
distribution map
map legend

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