Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

0310_male_Var_4May06 10060_male_Var_25Apr08 26513_male_Alpes-Maritimes_07Jul11
27461_male_Isère_18Jul11 23937_male_Var_15Sep10 10035_pair_Var_25Apr08
16726_pair_Var_25Jun09 23581_female_Var_2Sep10 36979_female_Var_21Apr15
38273_female_Hautes-Alpes_9Jul15 40149_female_Var_19Apr16 42247_ovum_Var_25Sep16

Alfacariensis is almost impossible to differentiate from the Pale Clouded Yellow (C. hyale) on external characteristics alone, given that Colias species never settle with open wings. The existence of alfacariensis as a separate species was not confirmed until around 1947 and many illustrations and photographs labelled as hyale in books prior to that date were in fact alfacariensis. My experience is that most specimens which could be either, turn out to be alfacariensis. Hyale seems to be quite scarce in France, and I am not sure this was always the case, so maybe it is diminishing, but identification problems probably preclude any such conclusions. The larvae are different.

Both are clearly a paler yellow than the Clouded Yellow (C. crocea), so confusion there is almost impossible (but see 26513), except with helice females. Alfacariensis is generally a stronger lemon yellow, and hyale rather paler, hence the name, although hyale's "pale" name came coincidentally from its comparison with crocea, not alfacariensis. The principal differences between alfacariensis and hyale are addressed on the hyale page.
ref sex

observations

alt. m
0310 M

I am reasonably confident that this is a male alfacariensis as the forewing outer margin is VERY curved and the apex not particularly pointed, even though the ground colour is quite a pale yellow.

340
10060 M

a male alfacariensis, a slight curvature even though the apex appears pointed (this may have been exaggerated by the camera angle). A very bright yellow ground colour, especially in the unf apical area, with a couple of yellow splashes below.

185
26513 M a male, but I am far from 100% certain that this is not crocea. One expert has expressed the view that it is definitely crocea. The reasons for my doubts arise from the fact that I saw it in flight and appeared distinctly pale. Alfacariensis and crocea are very easy to identify in flight. The unh colour does look rather suffused and crocea-like (possibly an altitude effect), but the yellow patch on the unf looks too pale for crocea. There appears to be a gap in the upf apical black mark (as viewed through the wing), which indicates alfacariensis, as crocea male is solid here. The upf black apical mark looks slightly jagged, matching the upf marks, whereas crocea is usually almost straight here. Also the upf costa is not as marked with dark scales as I would expect for crocea. On balance, I feel the evidence points more toward alfacariensis but comment is invited. 1400
27461 M a male, clearly alfacariensis. The upf line of the black apical mark is clearly visible and jagged. 1050
23937 M

a typical male in terms of both colouring and forewing shape.

780
10035 M

the male of a mating pair. A very slight forewing curvature, but very bright yellow, despite the widespread darker speckling of scales. Note the female is hanging off the edge with no foothold. No manners, this male!

185
16726 M

a mating pair. The male is probably the one on the right.

220
23581 F

a typical female. The bright yellow and pure white are indicative of alfacariensis rather than female crocea of the form helice, I believe.

780
36979 F a female, rather heavily scaled on the unh. 220
38273 F a female, egg-laying on what appears to be Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa), the principal larval hostplant of alfacariensis. It is highly unusual in that one pair of wings is slightly smaller than the other. 620
40149 F a rather crisp and pure white female. 220
42247 OVUM an egg, freshly laid on the larval hostplant, Hippocrepis comosa. The egg changes colour, reddening, after a few days. 220

 

0310_male_Var_4May06

 

10060_male_Var_25Apr08

 

26513_male_Alpes-Maritimes_07Jul11

 

27461_male_Isère_18Jul11

 

23937_male_Var_15Sep10

 

10035_pair_Var_25Apr08

 

16726_pair_Var_25Jun09

 

23581_female_Var_2Sep10

 

36979_female_Var_21Apr15

 

38273_female_Hautes-Alpes_9Jul15

 

40149_female_Var_19Apr16

 

42247_ovum_Var_25Sep16