Dainty Sulphur

Nathalis iole

Summary 5

The Dainty Sulphur or Dwarf Yellow (Nathalis iole) is a North American butterfly in the family Pieridae. This is the smallest species of Pieridae at GTM.

Description 5

For a key to the terms used see Lepidopteran glossary

This species is the smallest North American 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 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.

Similar species in the Dainty Sulphur's range include the Barred Yellow (Eurema daira) and the Little Yellow (Eurema lisa).

The Barred Yellow is larger than the Dainty Sulphur, and the underside of the wings is either all grayish-white or brownish-red.

The Little Yellow is also larger than the Dainty Sulphur, lacks the dorsal fore wing and hind wing black bars, and on the underside of the fore wing lacks the black spots and the yellowish-orange patch.

Larva description 6

The larva of the Dainty Sulphur is very similar to the Sleepy Orange and Little Yellow. Abdomen with annnules; pale green; hairy; lacks lateral stripe.

Larval host plants 6

Low-growing plants in the aster family (Asteraceae) especially shepherd's needle (Bidens pilosa), sneezeweed (Helenium), fetid marigold (Dyssodia), and cultivated marigold (Tagetes).

GTM Occurrence 6

The Dainty Sulphur is a frequent species at GTM. It has only been observed in the open habitat (Transect A). It flies from March to December with peak abundance during July and August. There have been 97 specimens observed as of December 28, 2015.

Distribution 7

Global Range: Resident in southern California, Arizona, and states bordering the Gulf of Mexico; also, south through Mexico to South America. Emigrates throughout the Midwest, as far north as Manitoba.

Habitat 8

Comments: Disturbed and grazed areas. Hosts including genus Tagetes, Helenium autunale, Bidens pilosa, others in family Asteraceae. Habitats may be open, brushy or sparsely wooded. A seasonal immigrant and transient breeder in most of US range.

Nature serve conservation status 9

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Common, wide-ranging, weedy species. Highly emigratory.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Jerry Oldenettel, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/7457894@N04/2907758999
  2. Meganmccarty, no known copyright restrictions (public domain), http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dainty_Sulphur_Megan_McCarty16.jpg
  3. Meganmccarty, no known copyright restrictions (public domain), http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dainty_Sulphur,_Megan_McCarty59.jpg
  4. (c) gtmresearchreserve, all rights reserved, uploaded by GTMResearchReserve, http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/2967319
  5. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathalis_iole
  6. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  7. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28795485
  8. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28795490
  9. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28795479

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