Help with Colias IDs

JerryMcW at JerryMcW at
Thu Aug 31 20:35:24 EDT 2000

Hi all,

I was wondering if someone could help me with some Colias identifications.  I 
spent five weeks in Montana and Washington this summer photographing birds 
and butterflies.  This was my first trip to the west to search for 
butterflies, so I am not familiar with many of the tougher groups.  I was 
fairly successful at finding many of my target species, thanks to all who 
responded to my early requests as to where to find them, but I am in a bit of 
a dilema with some of the butterflies I photographed.  I was wondering if 
anyone familiar with particular sites could help me determine what I have.  
Later I may need some help identifying some Chlosyne and Speyeria.

Butterfly 1.  On July 14 I photographed a yellow Colias that I think is 
either C. gigantea or C. occidentalis on Clay Butte, Park Co., Wyoming.  I 
photographed this butterfly near the lookout tower on the tundra.  I have 
researched at least five different references, including Scott's Butterflies 
of North America and Opler's Western Butterflies, but I am still confused.  
It seems the Colias group still needs much work.

Since I did not collect I am hoping those who have collected at this site can 
help me.  I have excellent ventral photos of a male that has a bright yellow 
ground color moderately dusted on both hindwing and forewing with black 
scales.  The wings are narrowly bordered with pink.  The hindwing cell spot 
is relatively large and white distinctly rimmed with brown not pink.  There 
is also a brownish smudge, not quite developed as a satellite spot, directly 
above the hindwing cell spot.    The discal cell spot is elongated and 
indistinct showing only thin black outline.  The upperside black borders can 
be seen on both hindwing and forewing through the wings.  The black borders 
are of relatively moderate width.  In flight, except for the black borders, 
the upperside appeared entirely yellow.

Butterfly 2.  Along the Inner North Fork Road at Glacier National Park, 
Montana on July 23 I photographed several Colias almost identical to the 
above butterfly, but the habitat was quite different.  They were along the 
dirt road visiting flowers in open areas in pines and in meadows.  The 
upperside of the females were pale to medium yellow with an incomplete black 
border on the forewing thickest in the apex.  The upperside of the hindwing 
was unmarked except for a pale yellowish orange dical spot.  The underside 
ground color on the hindwing was yellow with a hint of green and the forewing 
was yellow.  Both wings had some light black dusting with a single 
silvery-white, brown rimmed, cell spot and were narrowly edged with pink.  
The forewing discal spot was rather well developed, prominently black-rimmed 
with a pale yellow center.  I also photographed a male that was same as above 
except that it had complete black borders on upperside of forewings and 
hindwings.  Identification  seems to fit C. occidentalis.  Scott says C. 
occidentalis is not found east of Washington.  

Butterfly 3.  In a large bog along Rt. 296 near Swamp Lake in Park Co., 
Wyoming I photographed a couple of female Colias ovipositing.  I did not 
identify the plant that they were laying eggs on, but they flew down low in 
the grass and crawled down near the bases of the grass making it difficult to 
get photos.  I managed to get a photo of one in flight showing the upperside. 
 It was nearly all creamy-white except for a faint band of yellow along the 
inner margin of the forewing.  There was a very small dark discal spot on the 
forewing.  The upper hindwing discal spot was pale yellow-orange.  The 
underside of the hindwing was creamy white with a single reddish-brown rimmed 
white cell spot.  The underside of the forewing was white except at the apex 
which was pale yellow.  The forewing discal cell was well marked looking 
triangular shaped.
Was this C. gigantea.

Butterfly 4.  I photographed a male C. meadii on Clay Butte, Wyoming that had 
a well defined pink rimmed satellite cell spot on the under hindwing like C. 
johanseni.  Do C. meadii occasionally show a satellite spot?

Can someone help me these?  Thanks


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