Clouded Yellow (Colias crocea)

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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.

3909_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_15Aug06 6666_male_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jun07 40496_male_Var_11May16
29518_female_Var_22May12 13707_female_Vaucluse_23Aug08 6719_female_Alpes-Maritimes_9Jun07
   
6721_female_Alpes-Maritimes_9Jun07    

This is a very attractive butterfly which, like many migratory species, appears in May/June and returns in great numbers in September and later. Having seen so many Berger's Clouded Yellows (C. alfacariensis), including many quite bright yellow ones, I am no longer 100% certain of identifying these two species accurately without a good look.

Just to confuse the issue, the crocea female has a white form (the white is only visible on the unf) known as helice, which makes up about 10% of the female population (although it seems rather more than this in Var), and the female alfacariensis unf is also white. There is also an intermediary form known as helicina. There is also a rare sulfur form (see comments on 29518 below).
ref sex

observations

alt. m
3909 M

a rather dirty ground colour (altitude effect?) even though the specimen is quite fresh, and delicate slightly pink edging to both wings (I've never noticed this before - maybe it's an advantage of the close-up shot). There are no upf apical markings visible through the wing indicating male, and the hindwing margin is quite straight which also confirms male. The unh discal spot is very large and heavily ringed and silvery inside, and the second, usually vestigial, spot is large.

1800
6666 M

a male crocea taking salts.

330
40496 M a male roosting at the end of the day. 220
29518 F a female with a rather dull colouration. There is a rare sulfur yellow form of crocea and I wonder if this might be an example. Information on this form seems very scarce and the only reference I can find is in TLID. It seemed very different to any crocea I have ever seen and the species is common in Provence. 20
13707 F

a female. The apical yellow marks are showing through quite clearly (in the male, the black areas are solid) and the hindwing is rather rounded.

750
6719 F

a female of the form helice. It is sometimes considered that helice makes up about 10% of the UK population of female crocea, although my experience suggest that that percentage is higher in southern France. Identification is not a problem in the UK as there is nothing similar, but in France the upperside of the female alfacariensis is white and looks, at least superficially, very similar. The underside is 6721.

1000
6721 F

the underside of 6719. The pastel yellow of the unf indicates crocea of the form helice, whereas the female alfacariensis is white in this area.

1000

 

3909_male_Alpes-de-Haute-Provence_15Aug06

 

6666_male_Alpes-Maritimes_8Jun07

 

40496_male_Var_11May16

 

29518_female_Var_22May12

 

13707_female_Vaucluse_23Aug08

 

6719_female_Alpes-Maritimes_9Jun07

 

6721_female_Alpes-Maritimes_9Jun07