Marco Polo's Clouded
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Colias marcopolo, female, 4400m,
Jawshangoz, Pamir mountains, Tajikistan
genus Colias, commonly known as Clouded
Yellows, comprises of 83 known species, and has representatives in
temperate and sub-arctic habitats across the world.
majority are found in the Holarctic region ( Eurasia and North
America ) but there also several species in the Andes, and 2 in
majority of Colias species are
migratory in behaviour - crocea for
example migrates each summer from north Africa to England. Many of
the Neotropical and Asian Colias
species migrate seasonally across the mountain ranges where they
Colias marcopolo is
one of several Clouded Yellow species which breed at high altitudes
in the mountain ranges of temperate Asia.
The butterfly is endemic to Afghanistan and the
Pamir mountains of Tajikistan.
This species breeds on arid rock-strewn grasslands at elevations
between about 3000-4400 metres. It challenges the
Paralasa nepalica ( which has been recorded at an altitude of
4500m in Nepal ), for the title of highest flying species on Earth.
The larval foodplant is Astragalus.
In common with other high altitude Colias
species, marcopolo spends long periods at
rest, basking laterally on rocks and bare ground in sheltered pockets.
Unlike most other Colias species however
it will sometimes bask with wings fully outspread to gain maximum
advantage from the warmth of the sunlight.