Orange Sulphur Butterfly on a Sunflower

Orange Sulfur Butterfly and a soldier beetle rival compete for space on a sunflower. A for sale sign on the lot means all of the insects may soon be out of a home.

Orange Sulfur butterfly and a Soldier beetle compete for space on a sunflower. A "for sale" sign on the lot means all of the insects may soon be out of a home.

Here’s a bright scene for a cold winter day.   An Orange Sulphur butterfly sips nectar from a sunflower in a field in September.  The field was mowed a few weeks later, and the remaining short stubble is brown and lifeless, showing no sign of the lively community of insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds that once lived there.   A “for sale” is planted in the center.

I emailed several photographs of yellow butterflies to Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas.  Any yellow butterfly around here I’ve been calling a Cloudless Sulphur.  Dr. Taylor says this butterfly is an Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme.) 

“The butterfly looks like a female – males have solid and females spotted margins,” he wrote. 

Dr. Taylor identified the other insect as a Soldier beetle, which is highly prized by gardeners because it eats pest insects, such as aphids and grasshopper eggs.  It’s also a pollinator.  Pollinators are essential to our food supply, but there are fewer and fewer places for them to live.  Thousands of acres are lost daily to development.

Monarch Watch is dedicated to education about and the conservation and research of Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

An Orange Sulphur butterfly visits a sunflower in a vacant lot near a big box store.

An Orange Sulphur butterfly visits a sunflower in a vacant lot near a big box store. You can see its proboscis.


Filed under Biology, Butterflies, Conservation, Education, Entomology, Environment, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Photography, Random, Science, University of Kansas

4 responses to “Orange Sulphur Butterfly on a Sunflower

  1. So beautiful it almost made me cry. We have a butterfly garden and our elderly neighbor just hates it. He thinks of it as all weeds and is constantly trying to get his lawn people to “spray it away”. I love the butterflies (not many this year here with all our flooding) but my favorite are the fat furry bumblebees. Oh how I miss summer. We are about to have big negatives next week – record setting. I do not remember Winter being this hard.
    More summer eco pics please 🙂


  2. What uplifting glowingly gorgeous photos. How sad it all went…but you managed to capture them so their memory will live forever!


  3. What a lovely blog post, and pictures. Good for you for being so aware and interested in the health of our insect friends– hopefully you will inspire more people to learn and think like you (and less to use so many chemicals)! 🙂

    Swing by my blog sometime if you like:

    Best wishes!


  4. alwaysjan

    My third graders just finished a unit on “Urban Wildlife” and you managed to touch on two of the major themes in this post alone: (1) The loss of natural habitats due to human activity and (2) we’re surrounded by wildlife. We fail to notice all of these amazing creatures because it requires careful “observation” (one of their vocabulary words). My students need to see this. Thanks!


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