Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - COLIADINAE
philea © Adrian
The subfamily Coliadinae includes the Sulphurs,
Grass Yellows, Clouded Yellows and Brimstones. In the neotropical
region there are about 70 species.
The genus Phoebis
comprises of 8 species, most of which are strongly migratory in
behaviour. They are widely distributed across the region, with 3
exceptions : avellaneda which is
endemic to Cuba, editha from
Hispaniola, and the Ecuadorian species bourkei.
Phoebis species are sexually dimorphic.
Males are bright yellow above, with a thick patch of matt
androconial scales around the forewing cell. Females are paler on
both wing surfaces.
Phoebis philea is found from Mexico to
Peru, and also occurs on many of the Caribbean islands.
As with other Phoebis species,
philea is highly migratory in behaviour
and can thus be found in a wide variety of habitats
including primary and secondary rainforest, deciduous woodland,
scrubby grassland and farmland; at altitudes between sea level and
The eggs are yellow and laid singly on young
leaves of Cassia ( Caesalpinaceae ).
The larva when fully grown is pale green and covered with
greenish-black dots. There is a broad straw-coloured band along the
sides, above which is a series of short blackish vertical bands. The
pupa is pinkish, with the wing venation picked out in pale green,
and a prominent pale green lateral line.
Males are usually seen in lower numbers
than sennae or
argante, but can often be found amongst mud-puddling
aggregations of other Phoebis species.
These insects often form very tightly packed groups of dozens of
individuals. If alarmed the entire group erupts spontaneously into the
air and swirls about for several minutes afterwards in a seething mass
of fluttering yellow wings.
The paler females are seen less often,
and are usually observed in flight, or when nectaring at red flowers
such as Lantana and
Impatiens. There is no courtship ritual - the females are
intercepted in mid-flight and forced to the ground where copulation
takes place immediately.