Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Clouded Yellow:
Clouded Yellow
Colias croceus (Geoffroy, 1785)

Clouded Yellow egg.
ova
  Clouded Yellow caterpillar.
larva
  Clouded Yellow chrysalis
pupa
Clouded Yellow
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Nomenclature
Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Pieridae: Subfamily Coliadinae : Genus Colias: Species croceus:
Description
The adult butterfly can be seen from Mid May to June late July to late August and late September through to early October.
Habitat
Distribution
The Clouded Yellow can be found throughout England and Wales but is most likely encountered on the South Downs and south coast of England. Numbers vary from year to year depending upon weather conditions as most individuals originate from Mainland Europe. Subsequent breeding of these foreign immigrants may increase the overall UK population later in the flight season.

The Clouded Yellow is unable to cope with the cold wet British winter although a year-round breeding population is thought to exist around the Southbourne area of Bournemouth. Due local microclimates regular records of adult butterflies are also reported as late as the end of November in the area of Seaton Torpoint in Cornwall where a similar breeding population may also persist throughout the year.
Where to see the Clouded Yellow in the British Isles
The Clouded Yellow can be found throughout England and Wales but is most likely encountered on the South Downs and south coast of England. Numbers vary from year to year depending upon weather conditions as most individuals originate from Mainland Europe. Subsequent breeding of these foreign immigrants may increase the overall UK population later in the flight season.

The Clouded Yellow is unable to cope with the cold wet British winter although a year-round breeding population is thought to exist around the Southbourne area of Bournemouth. Due local microclimates regular records of adult butterflies are also reported as late as the end of November in the area of Seaton Torpoint in Cornwall where a similar breeding population may also persist throughout the year.
Other notes
In some years away from the south coast of England you may be lucky to see a Clouded Yellow as they can be very rare but in 'Clouded Yellow' years where good weather and southerly winds combine, large numbers may be forced northwards from mainland Europe where they are generally common and breed. 2006 was one of the best years recently for Clouded Yellows due to high summer temperatures.
Lifecycle chart
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Flight chart
JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Clouded Yellow in Britain. Specific lifecycle states, adult emergence and peak flight times vary from year to year due to variations in weather conditions.
IUCN category status 2010 5   IUCN category status 2007 34
--awaiting data-- --awaiting data--

5Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Least Concern Least Concern

3Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

4More information about IUCN categories.
Wingspan
25-62mm
UK status
Migrant
Larval foodplants
Wild and cultivated Clovers (Trifolium sp.) Lucerne (Medicago sativa) and occasionally Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).
Butterflies of Britain ID Chart
Your personal guide to British Butterflies. This 8-panel laminated chart is designed for speedy butterfly identification in the field. Ideal for anyone interested in identifying butterflies, perfect for children and adults and ideal for outdoor use, laminated, shower-proof and robust. Get your copy today.
Butterflies of Britain (Laminated ID Chart).
Online store
Visit our online store for many more butterfly related books and gifts.
Population trends 1
UK Population trend 1995-2004 up by 1877%
UK Population trend 1976-2004 up by 1117%

1Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M. (2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pices, Oxford.
UK BAP status 2
UK BAP status not listed (link)

2For information about the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, visit the JNCC web site jncc.defra.gov.uk.

National Biodiversity Network Gateway
National Biodiversity Network Gateway Distribution Map



Areas in and indicate a contraction in distribution of the Clouded Yellow except in Ireland where data is only available up until 1999.

* Records shown in outside the natural distribution may be the result of illegal or accidental releases by breeders or, depending upon the species, migrant individuals from mainland Europe.

Key to map*
= 2000 to 2010 inclusive (current distribution)
= records from 1950 to 1999 inclusive
= records from 1900 to 1949 inclusive
Records prior to 1st January 1900 are not shown.

The NBN Gateway records are shown on the map right. (See terms and conditions).

More data is available on the Clouded Yellow on the NBN Gateway web site.
Powered by NBN Gateway.
References
For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

Find out more online*
Clouded Yellow can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Clouded Yellow can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

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Photographs of the Clouded Yellow
Image ID BB1587 - Clouded Yellow - © Debbie Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1587 ©
Image ID BB1323 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1323 ©
Image ID BB1322 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1322 ©
Image ID BB1321 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow male (imago)
BB1321 ©
Image ID BB1320 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1320 ©
Image ID BB1013 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1013 ©
Image ID BB1012 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1012 ©
Image ID BB1011 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1011 ©
Image ID BB1010 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1010 ©
Image ID BB1009 - Clouded Yellow - © Steven Cheshire
Clouded Yellow female (imago)
BB1009 ©
There are 26 photographs of the Clouded Yellow in our stock photo library.
View more photographs of the Clouded Yellow as a thumbnail gallery or as a slideshow.
Aberrations and forms
There are 20 named aberrant forms of the Clouded Yellow currently listed. Find out more about aberrants here.

ab. albissima - Ragusa 1916
ab. chrysotheme - Stephens 1827
ab. cremonae - Verity 1911
ab. dentata - Caruel 1955
ab. divisa - Rocci 1920
ab. fischeri - Braun 1928
ab. geisleri - Bryk 1923
ab. hyerensis - Strand 1918
ab. latemarginata - Lempke 1933
ab. magnomaculata - Lempke 1954
ab. niediecki - Strand 1909
ab. nigrofasciata - Verity 1908
ab. pallida-obsoleta - Frohawk 1938
ab. purpurascens - Cockerell 1889
ab. radiata - Nitsche 1932
ab. retronigra - Delahaye 1909
ab. schirberi - Oberthür 1923
ab. seriata - Pionneau 1932
ab. velata - Ragusa 1904
form. helice - Hübner 1779