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Dainty Sulphur Nathalis iole


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Dainty Sulphur
credit: Megan McCarty

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Alternate name: Dwarf Yellow

Family: Pieridae, Whites and Sulphurs view all from this family

Description The Dainty Sulphur or Dwarf Yellow (Nathalis iole) is a North American butterfly in the family Pieridae.

This species is our smallest pierid. A rare population, known from Homestead (Smith et al., 1994), is said to have mostly white individuals. Some feel that the Dainty Sulphur is so unique among our pierids, in shape and in several structural features, that it should belong in a separate subfamily. Its appearance is highly variable but identification should not be a problem.

The fore wings elongated shape is distinctive. The upper side of the wings is yellow with the tip of the fore wing being black. Black bars extend along the trailing edge of the fore wing and the leading edge of the hind wing.

Male Dainty Sulphurs have an oval scent patch (called an androconial spot) in each hind wing bar. The androconial spot is reddish-orange but fades to pale yellow after death. The underside of the wings varies depending on the season. Summer individuals have yellowish hind wings whereas winter individuals have greenish-gray hind wings. Both forms have black spots near the fore wing margin and have a yellowish-orange patch near the base of the fore wing.

Dimensions 3/4-1 1/8" (19-28 mm).

Habitat Cities, suburbs & towns, Meadows & fields, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Grasslands & prairies, Forests & woodlands, Canyons & caves, Freshwater swamps, marshes & bogs.

Range Western Canada, Florida, Plains, California, Great Lakes, Northwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, New England, Texas, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast.