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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Pelidne Sulphur - Colias pelidne

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status


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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 2.0-2.5 cm. Fringes pink. Uppersurface of males yellow, forewing with entire black border and small black cell spot, black dusting at wing bases, females with border jagged and indistinct, white females more common than yellow (yellow more common in south). Undersurface of hindwing with small hindwing cell spot heavily rimmed with dark pink and higher than wide, heavy black scaling towards wing bases.

One flight, July to early August in Newfoundland, mid-July to August in the Rocky Mountains (Scott 1986). July to August (Glassberg 2001). July and August in the Rocky Mountain states (Ferris and Brown 1981), late June to early September in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002), late June to late August in Oregon (Warren 2005), June through July in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of upersurface yellow to white with narrow but entire black border, small black cell spot, black dusting at wing bases, undersurface of hindwing with the cell spot small but heavily rimmed with pink, higher than wide, heavy black scaling towards wing bases.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Holarctic. In North America, disjointed populations occur in 1) the northern Rocky Mountains from British Columbia and west-central Alberta south through Idaho to northwestern Wyoming, 2)coastal areas around Hudson Bay east to Labrador and Newfoundland, 3) eastern Alaska and the Yukon Territory; isolated populations in eastern Oregon (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005); to at least 2896 m elevation in Wyoming (Klots 1937; Nabokov 1953), 1676 m to at least 2743 m elevation in Oregon (Pyle 2002; Warren 2005), reported at 2438 m elevation in southeastern British Columbia (Threatful 1988). In Montana reported from at least 21 counties in the western 1/2 of the state, east to Carbon County (Kohler 1980; Standford and Opler 1993; FLMNH Lepidopterists' Society database), to at least 3042 m elevation. Rare to uncommon (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


Subalpine and subarctic forest openings, above and beyond treeline in alpine and arctic tundra, roadsides, power line cuts, heath, moist montane meadows (Klots 1937; Nabokov 1953; Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). Habitat in Montana not specifically described but likely similar. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem reported from tundra, fellfield, subalpine meadows and forest clearings (Debinski and Pritchard 2002), also moist meadows dominated by willows (Debinski et al. 2013).

Food Habits
Limited information. Larval food plants include Gaultheria and Vaccinium (multiple species) (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986, 1992; Guppy and Shepard 2001; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Cirsium, Helianthus, Polygonum, Senecio, Symphyotrichum, Taraxacum) and mud (Klots 1937; James and Nunnallee 2011; Scott 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Limited information. Females lay eggs singly on host plant, usually on the leaves (Scott 1992; James and Nunnallee 2011). May lay about 40 eggs over 4 days, eggs hatch in abut 6 days (depending on temperature), develop to L2 instar in about 5 days, overwinter as L2 or L3 instar (possibly L1 instar?), develop to L3 or L4 instar in about 6-11 days after leaving diapause and feeding, may enter diapause again as mature L5 instar. Larvae feed on host plant leaves, rest on upper leaf midribs when not feeding, seek refugia in curled leaves for overwintering (Guppy and Shepard 2001; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol low to the ground throughout the day near host plants and shrubby willows(Scott 1982, 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011).

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Citation for data on this website:
Pelidne Sulphur — Colias pelidne.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from