North American Ecology (US and Canada)
This information is based an ongoing project dedicated to the inventory and dissemination of information on lepidopteran larvae, their host plants, and their parasitoids in a Costa Rican tropical wet forest and an Ecuadorian montane cloud forest.
N=2 rearings as of 2012, both eclosed.
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Southern California; states bordering Gulf of Mexico; Mexico. Emigrates north as far as Canada, and dies in the northern winters. Probably more or less hardy north to about coastal South Carolina.
Collected in Heredia Province, Costa Rica.
Comments: General: open, disturbed areas. Hosts may be Chamaecrista cinerea. Genus Cassia widely used eastward.
Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Flowering Plants Visited by Phoebis sennae in Illinois
(observations are from Robertson, Clinebell, Wist, Fothergill & Vaughn; this butterfly is the Cloudless Sulfur)
Asteraceae: Aster anomalus sn (Rb), Aster pilosus sn (Rb), Aster sagittifolius sn (Rb), Cirsium discolor sn (Rb), Echinacea angustifolia sn (Ws), Helianthus divaricatus sn (Rb), Liatris aspera sn (Cl), Taraxacum officinale sn (FV), Vernonia fasciculata sn (Rb); Convolvulaceae: Ipomoea lacunosa sn (FV); Fabaceae: Baptisia leucantha sn np (Rb), Trifolium pratense sn (Rb), Trifolium repens sn (Rb); Malvaceae: Abutilon theophrastii sn (Rb); Verbenaceae: Verbena stricta sn (Rb)
Fabaceae: Senna fruticosa, Pentaclethra macroloba
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Life History and Behavior
Species shows strong sexual dimorphism.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Phoebis sennae
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Phoebis sennae
Public Records: 46
Specimens with Barcodes: 105
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: One of most abundant Neotropical pierids.
Degree of Threat: D : Unthreatened throughout its range, communities may be threatened in minor portions of the range or degree of variation falls within natural variation
Global Protection: Many to very many (13 to >40) occurrences appropriately protected and managed
The cloudless sulphur or cloudless giant sulphur (Phoebis sennae) is a midsized butterfly in the family Pieridae found in the New World. There are several similar species such as the yellow angled-sulphur (Anteos maerula), which has angled wings, or other sulphurs, which are much smaller.
Their range is wide, from South America to southern Canada, in particular southwestern Ontario. They are most common from Argentina to southern Texas and Florida, but are often visitors outside this range becoming more rare further north.
The common habitats of this butterfly are open spaces, gardens, glades, seashores, and watercourses.
The breeding season is dependent on the climate of the area, from midsummer to fall in the cooler areas, to year-round where the climate is warmer.
The cloudless sulphur starts off as a pitcher-shaped white egg. Eventually it will turn to a pale orange. The egg stage lasts six days.
Once the egg hatches, a caterpillar emerges that is yellow to greenish, striped on sides, with black dots in rows across the back. The caterpillar will build a tent in a host plant where it hides in the day. The host plant may be partridge pea (Chamaecrista cinerea), sennas (Senna), clovers (Trifolium), or other legumes (Fabaceae). The caterpillar will usually grow to a length between 41–45 mm (1.6–1.8 in).
The caterpillar will form a chrysalis that is pointed at both ends and humped in the middle. The chrysalis will be either yellow or green with pink or green stripes. From the chrysalis comes a medium sized butterfly (55–70 mm (2.2–2.8 in)) with fairly elongated but not angled wings.
The male butterfly is clear yellow above and yellow or mottled with reddish brown below and the female is lemon-yellow to golden or white on both surfaces, with varying amounts of black spotting along the margin and a black open square or star on the bottom forewing. Wingspan: 63–78 mm (2.5–3.1 in).
- P. s. amphitrite (Feisthamel, 1839)
- P. s. sennae or P. s. eubule
- P. s. marcellina (Cramer, )
- Cloudless Sulphur, Butterflies of Canada
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network: ''Senna hebecarpa
- Clark, Dale. "Phoebis sennae". Dallas County Lepidopterists' Society. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
- Phoebis sennae, funet.fi
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