Natural Highlights: Whites and Sulphurs


The heat of July heralds the beginning of "butterfly season" in the Mid-South, when butterflies, undaunted by high temperatures, seem to be everywhere. One family of butterflies, the Pieridae, has already been active and easily observable this year; it's actually hard to spend much time outside without seeing one of them.  Also known collectively as the Whites and Sulphurs, the Pieridae includes 12 Tennessee species, 10 of which occur in the Mid-South area, according to Butterflies of Tennessee by Rita Venable.  We have three Whites here, the Cabbage White (a non-native species which is now all over the U.S.), the Checkered White, and the Falcate Orangetip, which use plants in the mustard family as host plants.  Our Sulphurs include the Clouded, Cloudless, Orange, and Dainty Sulphurs, the Sleepy Orange, the Southern Dogface, the Little Yellow.  All but one of the Sulphurs use legumes as host plants.

These butterfly family uses all 6 legs when restsing, and their wings remain closed.  You may have noticed pairs of whites or sulphurs spiralling upwards now and then; this is caused by persistent male butterflies in pursuit of females which are trying to elude them - the butterfly equivalent of "Get lost!"   

We are sure to see some of the members of the Pieridae during the annual Butterfly Workshop on July 3rd at the Lucius Burch Trailhead, and on the Wildflower Wander along the Wolf River Greenway at Epping Way.  Check our Activity Calendar for details and registration.

  Southern Dogface


Posted by Cathy Justis at 8:38 PM