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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Mead's Sulphur - Colias meadii

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4


Agency Status
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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Curtis and Ferris 1985; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 1.9-2.7 cm. Wing fringes pink. Uppersurface burnt-orange with violet sheen, black border wide in males, fenestrated in females; males with distinct oblong sex patch at upper margin of hindwing. Undersurface of forewing with orange tinge and pale greenish border, hindwing green with small pink and simple-rimmed discal spot. White female form rare.

Phenology
One flight, July to August (Scott 1986). Mid-July to mid-August (Glassberg 2001). Late July to early September in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), late June to early September in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), mid-July to early August in Idaho (Curtis and Ferris 1985), July and August in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of pink wing fringes, uppersurface burnt-orange with wide black border, undersurface of forewing with orange tinge and pale greenish border, hindwing green with small pink and simple-rimmed discal spot.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions

Native
 


Range Comments
The Rocky Mountains, from northern British Columbia and Alberta south in discontinuous regions to extreme northern New Mexico (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001); 2896 m to 4145 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957; Scott and Scott 1978), 2438 m to at least 3383 m elevation in Wyoming (Nabokov 1953; Emmel et al. 1970; Curtis and Ferris 1985), 2438 m to at least 2774 m elevation in Idaho, 1628 m to 2500 m elevation in Alberta and British Columbia (Ferris 1972; Guppy and Shepard 2001). In Montana, reported from at least 15 counties in two regions (Glacier National Park-Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, and southwestern Montana east to the Beartooth Mountains), at 2134 m to at least 3018 m elevation (Kohler 1980; Curtis and Ferris 1985; Stanford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database). Locally common to locally abundant (Glassberg 2001).

Migration
Non-migratory. Average dispersal distance for males 0.37-0.53 km, for females 0.26-0.7 km; longest 1.3 km (Watt et al. 1977), 1.7 km (Scott 1986).

Habitat
Alpine tundra, dry and lush subalpine meadows, willow bogs (Nabokov 1953; Ferris 1972; Curtis and Ferris 1985; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported above treeline in alpine terrain (Debinski 1993); in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem reported in high mountains at and near treeline (Debinski and Pritchard 2002).

Food Habits
Larval food plants are members of the pea family, including Astragalus (multiple species), Oxytropis, Trifolium (multiple species), and Vicea (Emmel et al. 1970; Scott and Scott 1978; Ferris and Brown 1981; Curtis and Ferris 1985; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006; Debinski and Pritchard 2002). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Agoseris, Arnica, Erigeron, Haplopappus, Heterotheca, Hymenoxys, Oxytropis, Primula, Sedum, Senecio, Solidago, Symphyotrichum, Taraxacum), mud, and dew (Watt et al. 1974, 1977; Miller at al. 1994; Ezzeddine and Matter 2008; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Limited information. Females lay eggs singly on host plant leaves, usually on uppersurface but sometimes undersurface (Emmel at al. 1970; Scott 1986, 1992, 2006). Larvae feed on host plant leaves, hibernate as L3 or L4 instar, rarely as L5 instar; overwinters as L2-L3 instar in British Columbia, biennial in Alberta with L1 instar overwintering first winter and as mature larvae second winter (Scott 1979, 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001). Apparently pupates on host plant (Scott 2006). Average adult male lifespan 6-7 days, adult females 4 days (Scott 1986). Males patrol throughout the day over all kinds of topography in open areas seeking females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Mead's Sulphur — Colias meadii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from