Meet 5 Yellow Butterfly Species

Many families have a yellow butterfly species, but you’ll usually see Cloudless sulphurEastern tiger swallowtailWestern tiger swallowtailTwo-tailed swallowtail, or Little yellow butterflies.

1. Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly

Cloudless Sulphur
Cloudless Sulphur

The Cloudless sulphur butterflyOrange sulphur, or Clouded sulphur (Phoebis sennae) is a species with lemon or bright yellow wings, thorax, and abdomen. It has a reddish-orange pair of antennae, and its head is a combination of these yellow and reddish-orange butterfly colors. 

Its average wingspan ranges between 2.6 to 4.7 inches (6.6 to 11.9 cm).

While the wings typically show bright shades, the females sometimes appear white or pale yellow during summer. Moreover, their wings have narrow black bands and dark spots that can be found on the central forewing.

On the other hand, the males appear larger, especially during the winter when their ventral markings turn a tad darker than usual.

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These butterflies prefer to mate in open, disturbed habitats as long as host plants are nearby. Males initiate courtship by touching their wings or legs against the females’ wings.

Cloudless sulphur butterfly is common in West Indies, South America and the following US locations:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Nebraska
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • New Jersey

2. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

The average wingspan of an Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) can measure up to 5.5 inches (14 cm), meaning it’s a large butterfly.

The males have four black stripes that run perpendicular to the spread wings. These markings resemble the stripes you can find on tigers.

The Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies are typically diurnal, which means they are more active during the day. During the mating season, the males fly around the typical habitats of the host plants in search of a suitable mate during this part of their life cycle.

You can find the Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly in these places in North America:

  • Ontario, Canada
  • Great Plains
  • Florida
  • Eastern Texas

3. Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Western Tiger Swallowtail
Western Tiger Swallowtail

The Western tiger swallowtail butterflies (Papilio rutulus) have a wingspan ranging from 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm).

Its forewings and hindwings have a yellow base with black markings similar to those found in the Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies. The ventral side shows separate yellow spots along the forewings, while the hindwings have narrow marginal spots.

The female adult butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on these host plants:

  • Yerba santa
  • California buckeye
  • Abelia
  • Thistles
  • Zinnia 

The Western tiger swallowtail butterflies have been around these locations:

  • British Columbia
  • Southeast Colorado
  • Baja California
  • South Dakota
  • Central Nebraska
  • New Mexico

4. Two-Tailed Swallowtail Butterfly

Two-Tailed Swallowtail
Two-Tailed Swallowtail

The average wingspan of the Two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata) is about 2 inches (5 cm), meaning it’s a medium-sized butterfly. One of its unique physical features is the set of 2 tails on each hindwing. 

It has a yellowish-orange shade for its base with black markings that are common for Swallowtail butterflies. The males usually have thicker black bands than what can be found on the females’ wings.

The females’ hindwings have iridescent markings near the caudal parts of their hindwings. There is also an eyespot near this surface that lacks a black spot. 

Once the females lay the eggs on the food plants, they leave the eggs and do not wait for them to hatch. The larvae that emerge from the egg immediately feed on the leaves and stems of wildflowers and plants from the pea family.

The Two-tailed swallowtail butterfly lives in Central Mexico, Canada (Southern Alberta) and:

  • North Dakota
  • Central Texas
  • Central Nebraska
  • British Columbia
  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • Montana

5. Little Yellow Butterfly

Little Yellow Butterfly
Little Yellow Butterfly

The Little yellow butterfly (scientific names Eurema lisa euterpe and Eurema lisa centralis) have an average wingspan that can hardly reach an inch. Because of this, it is considered a small butterfly species that can symbolize good luck.

The dorsal side of the wings has a bright yellow shade with brown markings that outline the costal surfaces. The ventral side of the hindwings has light gray markings and one pair of black spots.

Because of their appearance, these butterflies are quite similar to the poisonous Sulphur butterflies. They use this trait to their advantage to scare the attackers away.

Little yellow butterflies have an erratic and fast flight pattern that helps them travel long distances and escape potential predators before the latter even has the chance to attack them.

As larvae, they prefer eating the leaves and stems of partridge peas. As adults, they love to consume the nectar of the aster flowers that can usually be found on roadsides and open meadows.

There have been sightings of the Little yellow butterfly in:

  • North America
  • Central America

Are yellow butterflies rare?

Yellow butterflies are among the most common mid-size butterfly kinds. For example, the Sulphur butterfly is common across the US and visits some Canadian areas. Yellow butterflies often come with shades of other colors, black veins, or spots.

What does it mean to see a yellow butterfly?

Seeing a yellow butterfly means you should have hope and wait for transformation. Yellow butterflies also carry additional messages. They might mean you’ll receive huge news, remember your childhood, or have a spiritual experience. The meaning of yellow butterflies is associated with the meaning of color yellow, coming down to joy, optimism, and energy.

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