North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

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

Mead's Sulphur (Colias meadii)
distribution map
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