Welcome back to our monthly blog in which we discuss a few interesting facts about butterflies in general and a specific type of butterfly.
This month I want to talk about how and what butterflies eat. With very few exceptions butterflies feed on nectar. Nectar is a sugary liquid excreted by flowers to attract pollinators. Butterflies suck the nectar up through their proboscis, a feeding tube that varies in length depending on the kind of butterfly.
In some species it can reach three times the butterfly’s body length! Butterflies with long proboscises can feed from deeper flowers that their competitors may not be able reach.
Another interesting fact about butterfly physiology is that they can see UV light, which is not visible to the human eye. Their perception of flower markings is therefore much more detailed than ours and it also helps them search for a mate by observing the reflective and absorbent markings specific to their kind.
The Cloudless Sulphur
Sulphur butterflies are named for the yellow wing color they have in common. Among the different Sulphur butterflies this can run the gamut from almost white to light or
ange. The ‘Cloudless’ is unique in that the male’s wings are a true solid yellow on top without any markings or ‘clouds’.
The female Cloudless usually does show some mottling on the edges and undersides of her wings. She lays her eggs on plants in the Cassia family such as partridge peas, sickle pod senna and wild senna.
The white eggs produce long and slender yellowish green larvae with a distinct yellow stripe on both sides and lots of little black bumps all over.
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Written by Carin Ashman, UF/IFAS Extension Clay County Master Gardener Volunteer