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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Queen Alexandra's Sulphur
Colias alexandra pseudocolumbiensis  GUPPY & SHEPARD, 2001
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Tribe -
Colias alexandra pseudocolumbiensis male, British Columbia, Canada  Chris Orpin
Introduction
There are over 80 species of Colias worldwide, of which the majority are inhabitants of temperate grasslands or sub-arctic tundra. In South America there are 5 species found on the Andean paramo and puna grasslands. There are 18 species in North America, two of which also occur in Central America; and there is one species endemic to Hawaii.
All Colias species are migratory in behaviour. Some simply move up and down mountainsides as the seasons advance, to take advantage of fresh growth of their larval foodplants and adult nectar sources. Others undertake much longer migrations - e.g. Colias crocea, which migrates annually from North Africa to northern Europe.
Colias are collectively known as Sulphurs in North America, but elsewhere in the world they are called Clouded Yellows. On the upper surface of the wings the ground colour varies from pure white to deep orange according to species, but the majority are some shade of yellow.
Males of alexandra vary in colour from pale to deep yellow according to subspecies. The borders are dark brown, slightly wavy on the forewings, and tapering on the hindwings. Females are paler and uniform in colour, without borders. The underside hindwings of both sexes are yellow with a greenish tint, and are marked with a small circular white spot. In subspecies pseudocolumbiensis this spot is ringed with reddish.
Colias alexandra is found east of the Rockies from British Colombia and Alberta in Canada, south to Arizona in the USA. Subspecies pseudocolumbiensis is restricted to British Columbia.
Habitats
This species can be found in open grassy habitats throughout its range.
Lifecycle
The eggs are pale yellow when first laid but soon turn bright red. They are laid singly or in pairs on the underside of leaves of the larval foodplants. Often a particular favoured plant will have dozens of eggs on it, laid by various females, or on repeat visits by a single female. The larva is dull green when young, and leaves pock marks as it feeds by nibbling holes in the cuticle of the leaf. The fully grown larva is green with a thin dark dorsal stripe, and a broader cream lateral stripe below the spiracles. The larval foodplants include Astragalus and Hedysarum ( Fabaceae ). The pupa is pale green and is attached by the cremaster and a silk girdle to a stem of the foodplant.
Adult behaviour
Males imbibe from wet muddy ground. Both sexes nectar at a wide range of flowers.
 

 

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