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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Christina's Sulphur
Colias christina  EDWARDS, 1863
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
Tribe -
Colias christina christina male, Castle Junction, Alberta, 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 christina vary in colour from pale to deep yellow according to subspecies. The borders are solid black and of even width on the forewings, and taper on the hindwings. Females vary from mid yellow to almost white, and have pale suffused greyish or brownish borders that are broken up by a series of small squarish pale spots.
Colias christina is found in California, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Washington and Alaska in the USA, and in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and Northwest Territory. There are 6 named subspecies.
Colias christina christina female, Castle Junction, Alberta, Canada  Chris Orpin
Habitats
This is a nomadic species which can be found in a wide range of grassy habitats including alpine meadows, woodland glades and clearings.
Lifecycle
The eggs are pale yellow, and are laid singly or in pairs on the leaves of the larval foodplants which include Lathyrus lanszwertii in Oregon and Hedysarum in South Dakota. When newly emerged the larva rests on the top of its leaf and nibbles small irregular holes out of the cuticle. When older it rests on the stems. The fully grown larva is green with a pair of thin yellow stripes along the back. There is also a broader pale yellow lateral line which is usually interrupted by a series of pink or red dashes. The pupa is green, and is attached by the cremaster and a silk girdle to a stem.
Adult behaviour
Males gather in groups of up to 50 to imbibe mineralised moisture from damp ground. Both sexes nectar at a wide range of flowers but show a preference for Fabaceae.
 

 

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