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Pest Information

Alfalfa Sulphur Butterfly

Alfalfa Sulphur Butterfly

  • Latin Name: Colias eurytheme
  • Common Name: Alfalfa Sulphur Butterfly
  • Other Names: Orange sulphur

Pest Details

Alfalfa Sulphur Butterfly
Alfalfa Sulphur Butterfly


This is a native insect in North America and is found throughout the U.S. and south into Mexico.


The larvae feed on various legumes and clovers including alfalfa, and may become a pest problem in alfalfa fields. In northern California there are occasional mass outbreaks where hordes of the butterflies are flying across roadways and being killed as vehicles run into them. Females deposit eggs singly by gluing them to the top of the leaf. Larvae are capable of eating entire leaves but often eat only part of one before moving onto a different leaf. There will be several generations each year and the pupa overwinters.


The adult butterfly wingspan is from 1.5 to 2.75 inches across. Males are bright yellow to yellow orange and have wide black borders along the margins of all 4 wings and black spots at the middle of each forewing. Females are similar but have yellow patches interspersed within the black borders. There also is an albinic form of the female which is a grayish white rather than orange.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

In a landscape setting there is no need to control these butterflies and damage to any ornamental leguminous plants is unlikely.

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