Look for Clouded Sulphur Butterflies in Your Backyard

Updated: Aug. 03, 2023

The pretty yellow clouded sulphur is a common sight in the butterfly garden. Learn more about this colorful butterfly species.

Where to Find a Clouded Sulphur Butterfly

clouded sulphur butterflyCourtesy Charlene Denise Maples
The clouded sulphur is a small yellow butterfly

In many parts of the country, clouded sulphurs are one of the most common butterfly species. You’ll see them along roadsides where wildflowers grow, fluttering over fields of alfafa or clover, and right in your own butterfly garden. This species is common in the eastern U.S. and southern Canada, and is also spotted regularly out west, with a few sightings as far north as Alaska. However, clouded sulphurs don’t fly in south Texas, Florida and most of California.

Similar Butterfly Species

254020780 1 Catherine Forrest Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Catherine Forrest
A clouded sulpher butterfly has black edging on its wings

These dainty butterflies (their wingspan measures 1 to 2 inches) are members of the Pieridae family, which also includes the cabbage white (Pieris rapae). Clouded sulphur females also have a white form which is easily confused with the cabbage white.

It’s also easily confused with the cloudless sulphur (Phoebis sennae). But the black edging on the topsides of the wings easily sets the clouded sulphur apart. The problem is, you rarely see this species with its wings open. However, the black usually shows through on the bottom, especially in good light. So if you can get a close look, you should be able to tell.

See 7 small butterflies you should never overlook.

Caterpillar and Chrysallis

Clouded Sulphur Last Instar CaterpillarRick & Nora Bowers / Alamy Stock Photo

Clouded sulphur caterpillars are green with a white or tan lateral stripe across their bodies. The chrysalis resembles those of other members of the sulphur family.

Discover 7 fascinating caterpillar facts you should know.

How to Attract a Clouded Sulphur Butterfly

Bnbbyc18 Katelyn CheekCourtesy Katelyn Cheek
Clouded sulphur on purple coneflower

Attract these beauties to your butterfly garden with lots of nectar plants, including coneflowers. Their host plants include alfalfa, clovers, and members of the vetch family. Some of these are pretty weedy, so you may not want to include them in your garden unless it’s fairly wild already.

“One day when I was visiting my grandma, these clouded sulphur butterflies were everywhere. I always have my camera with me, so I sat among the flowers and waited for the fliers to settle down on purple coneflower blooms before taking this shot,” says reader Katelyn Cheek of Washington, Nebraska.

Looking for more plants to attract butterflies? Check out our favorite long-blooming butterfly flowers!