Berger's Clouded Yellow (Colias alfacariensis)
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2023 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
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.|
|45713||M||a beautifully fresh male alfacariensis stopping for a brief moment in inclement weather.||640|
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.
|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|
a typical male in terms of both colouring and forewing shape.
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!
a mating pair. The male is probably the one on the right.
|45359||F||I believe this to be a female alfacariensis. I stress "I believe" to indicate a degree of uncertainty. I originally thought 45359 was a Mountain Clouded Yellow (C. phicomone) on the basis that it was seen at high altitude and the degree of white usually points to phicomone at altitude, and that I have never seen alfacariensis at such a high altitude (despite the fact that TLID quotes the altitude range as 0-2400m). However, it just doesn't look right for phicomone, and I conclude that it must be alfacariensis. Hyale can be precluded as it doesn't occur in this part of the world. Comment is invited.||1830|
a typical female. The bright yellow and pure white are indicative of alfacariensis rather than female crocea of the form helice, I believe.
|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|