Florida Butterflies
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Cloudless sulphur butterfly, Julia Heliconian butterfly, Painted Lady butterfly, Barred Yellow butterfly, Ceraunus Blue butterfly, Salt Marsh moth, Black-etched Prominent moth, Streaked Sphinx moth

Cloudless Sulphur - Phoebis sennae

A male Cloudless Sulphur butterfly at rest. A female Cloudless Sulphur deposits a single egg on a Cassia shrub.

Adult Cloudless sulphur butterflies feed from many different Florida flowers including the Geiger Tree and other Cordia species, Bougainvillea, Morning glory, and Cardinal flower.

Adult size is 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 inches, several flights per year in Florida.

The Cassia species of plants are used as larval hosts. Males are yellow on the upper surface with no markings, female may be yellow or white. Both sexes with pink lined silver spots on lower surface of the hindwing, female has an irregular black border on the under side of her wings.

Julia Heliconian - Dryas iulia

Photo - Julia Heliconian butterfly ( Dryas iulia ), dorsal view.

Distinctive elongated forewing, males are bright orange above and below, hindwing has a narrow black border on the outer margin.

Female is a duller orange with more black markings above.

Wingspan is 3 1/4" - 3 5/8" ,single eggs are laid on new growth of Passion vines.

Found throughout the year in southern Florida, caterpillar host plants are members of the Passiflora family (Passion-vines). Adults feed on Lantana and Shepherd's needle and have a set route of nectar sources they visit each day.

Julia Heliconian butterflies can be seen around thickets, hammocks and surrounding areas.

Painted Lady - Vanessa cardui

Photo - Dorsal view of the Painted lady butterfly. Photo - Painted lady butterfly, ventral view.

Common names include Thistle Butterfly and Cosmopolitan.

Wingspan 2 -3 inches. Dorsal surface of wings with a broken pattern of orange, yellows and browns. Forewings are tipped with with a black patch containing several white spots and a white to yellowish bar at the leading edge of the forewing. Underside of hindwing has four eyespots.

Caterpillar host plant favorites include thistles and mallows.

Adults like the nectar of thistles, milkweeds they also visit button-bush and ironweed.

American lady butterflies can be seen the year-round in S. Florida and are found in a variety of habitats - Uplands, Sandhill and Flatwoods, as well as vacant lots and backyards.

Barred Yellow butterfly - Eurema daira

Barred Yellow butterfly nectaring on Capeweed - Phyla nodiflora

A.K.A. Barred Sulfur. Wingspan - 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. A dry season and wet season form.

Most notably, wet season form is white on underside of hindwing, dry season (winter) form is dull red to tan with two black spots. Sexes also differ, South Florida individuals sometimes have white hindwings.

Habitat is open woods, dunes and grassy areas. Host plants are members of the pea family (Fabaceae).

Ceraunus Blue - Hemiargus ceraunus

A Ceraunus Blue butterfly feeding. A dorsal view of a Ceraunus blue butterfly.

Host plants are of the Fabaceae family and include all Indigofera spp., Partridge Pea, Rosary Pea and Sensitive Pea.

A small butterfly, the Ceraunus Blue is often overlooked, with a 3/4 to 1 inch wingspan they tend to blend in rather well with their surroundings.

Males are light blue with a narrow dark margin on the dorsal surface, females are brown with blue limited to the base of the wings. Underside is gray in males, females more brown. Both sexes have a row of post median dashes.

Ceraunus Blues in Florida have one black sub-marginal spot with orange-yellow border at the hind wing, in the southwest there are two spots.

Salt Marsh moth - Estigmene acrea

Female Salt marsh moth The Salt marsh moth, Estigmene acrea.

Caterpillars of the Salt Marsh moth are a pest on many vegetable and field crops. Females lay up to 1,200 eggs and the larvae disperse in search of food. Host plants in the wild include Pigweed, Anglepod, Dog Fennel and Ground Cherry.

Adults have up to about a 2 1/2 inch wingspan and are white with irregular black specks and five larger black spots, abdomen is dull orange, tip of abdomen is white in females.

Black-etched Prominent moth - Cerura scitiscripta

A Black-etched Prominent moth, Cerura scitiscripta, blends into a stucco wall.

White moth with finely etched black lines in a zigzag pattern on the forewing, the hindwing has a few dark scattered scales and on the rear margin.

First 2/3 of the antennae are bipectinate (comb like). Wingspan = 2.5 - 4.0 cm.

Larval hosts are Poplars, Cherry and Willows.

Streaked Sphinx moth - Protambulyx strigilis

Streaked Sphinx moth

Large moth with a 4 1/4 to 5 1/4 inch wingspan, S. Florida is the northern limit of its range.

There are two forms of Streaked Sphinx, a pale form and a dark form. The pale form is pale yellow-gray on the top of the forewing, the hind wing is deep yellow-orange.

The dark form is reddish brown on top of the forewing, the hindwing is orange-brown, both forms have a notch or indentation on the inner margin of the forewing.

Adults fly in July, larval host are several members of plants in the cashew family.