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Butterflies of temperate Asia
Marco Polo's Clouded Yellow
Colias marcopolo   GRUM-GRSHIMAILO, 1888
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Tribe -
Colias marcopolo, female, 4400m, Jawshangoz, Pamir mountains, Tajikistan F. Michel
Introduction
The genus Colias, commonly known as Clouded Yellows, comprises of 83 known species, and has representatives in temperate and sub-arctic habitats across the world.
The majority are found in the Holarctic region ( Eurasia and North America ) but there also several species in the Andes, and 2 in sub-Saharan Africa.
The 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 breed.
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.
Habitats
This species breeds on arid rock-strewn grasslands at elevations between about 3000-4400 metres. It challenges the Satyrine Paralasa nepalica ( which has been recorded at an altitude of 4500m in Nepal ), for the title of highest flying species on Earth.
Lifecycle

The larval foodplant is Astragalus.

Adult behaviour

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.

 

 

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