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East Midlands Branch Butterfly Conservation

Clouded Yellow Colias croceus


The Clouded Yellow is an unpredictable annual migrant to Britain arriving from southern Europe in spring and dispersing northwards, occasionally occurring in huge numbers about once every decade. It may be expected in many habitats where there is an abundance of nectar sources.


It has rich deep-yellow wings with solid black borders, which, on the female, are dotted with yellow spots. There is a pale female form helice. It almost always rests and feeds with its wings closed.

Flight times

The first arrivals are usually seen in May and June, with further immigrations possible between July and September. Numbers are supplemented by locally bred butterflies as it has a very rapid breeding cycle. It may be recorded until October.

Food plants

Food plants are clovers, Lucerne, and Common Bird's-foot-trefoil.

Clouded Yellow - © Simon Jenkins cut out picture of clouded yellow

Distribution Maps for the East Midlands Region

Clouded Yellow distribution map 2010
2010 Summary
No of tetrads 2
First sighting 16/06/2010
Last sighting 20/09/2010
Clouded Yellow distribution map 2011
2011 Summary
No of tetrads 7
First sighting 02/07/2011
Last sighting 28/09/2011
Clouded Yellow distribution map 2012
2012 Summary
No of tetrads 6
First sighting 26/07/2012
Last sighting 04/10/2012
Clouded Yellow distribution map 2013
2013 Summary
No of tetrads 49
First sighting 29/06/2013
Last sighting 29/10/2013
Clouded Yellow distribution map 2014
2014 Summary
No of tetrads 67
First sighting 03/05/2014
Last sighting 03/11/2014
Clouded Yellow distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 23
First sighting 05/06/2015
Last sighting 21/10/2015
Clouded Yellow distribution map 2005-09

Combined records for the five year period 2005-09

Clouded Yellow distribution map 2010-14

Combined records for the five year period 2010-14


Photo Gallery

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow © Christine Maughan

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow © Simon Jenkins

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow © Simon Jenkins

Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow © Simon Jenkins

Clouded Yellow Clouded Yellow Clouded Yellow Clouded Yellow
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Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

The rich golden yellow of the Clouded Yellow and bold black margins on the upper sides make it unlike any other British butterfly.

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni

The pale "Helice" form of the Clouded Yellow could be confused with a Brimstone. All forms of Clouded Yellow and Brimstone rest with their wings closed, hiding the bold black margins. The key differences being the shape of the rear edge of the wings and the shade of yellow, Brimstone having a slightly greenish tint, particularly the females.

Brimstone - © Simon Jenkins
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