The cloudless sulfur just might be the most common butterfly in North Florida. That’s cool with us.
At minimum, this species, Phoebus sennae, is one of the Lepidopterans (butterflies and moths) that people are most likely to see in these parts.
This lemon-yellow beauty is a strong flier, and will happily go about gathering nectar from flowers on summer afternoons, when when many butterflies seek shelter and rest.
The male and female are virtually all yellow, though the females often have a small brown spot on the upper surface of each forewing, and both genders may have a sprinkling of brown marks on the undersides of their wings.
From a distance, all you’re likely to see is a blob of bright yellow color, darting about and landing just about anywhere, though they rarely remain still for very long.
The adult cloudless sulfur isn’t a picky eater – it has long, coiled mouthparts that can unroll to reach nectar waaaaay back in the rear of tubular flowers, places other butterflies can’t access.
For the cloudless sulfur larvae, it’s a different story. They typically eat the leaves of plants in the Senna genus, which are legumes, some of them ornamental.
To find one of these butterflies around the house, it’s a simple matter – just look out the nearest window, wait a few minutes, and keep alert for anything yellow.
We here in North Central Florida are lucky to be in an area where the cloudless sulfur overwinters. Let’s just call them the original snowbirds.
You can learn more about the cloudless sulfur at this “Featured Creatures” document from the UF/IFAS Department of Entomology and Nematology.