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The Clouded Yellow.
Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow - BugBotherer

Introduction To The ButterflyEdit

The Clouded Yellow is primarily an immigrant to the UK, originating from north Africa and southern Europe, with numbers varying greatly from year to year – an estimated 36,000 butterflies appearing in one of the infrequent “Clouded Yellow” years in 1947. In more recent years, it has been shown that this species has successfully overwintered in the south of England. However, it is believed that the majority of individuals perish, since both larva and pupa of this continuously-brooded species are easily killed by damp and frost. In good years this species can produce up to 3 generations in the UK. In flight, this species is often mistaken for one of the commoner “whites”, but the orange-yellow colour is quite distinctive, even in flight, and unlike any other species.

The DistributionEdit

The Clouded Yellow has a distribution befitting a highly-migratory species, and can be found anywhere in the British Isles. Many immigrants remain near the coast where they feed, mate, and lay eggs. Others disperse inland and this species has been found in both Scotland and Ireland in good years.


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.

Annual CycleEdit

The first immigrants of this species start to arrive to our shores in late May or early June, with much larger numbers appearing in July and August, as the offspring of the first arrivals mingle with new immigrants.


HabitatEdit

This butterfly can be found in just about any open habitat in the countryside, including coastal cliffs, open downland, and fields containing the larval foodplants of Clovers, Lucerne and Bird's-foot Trefoil.

FoodplantsEdit

The primary larval foodplants are Clovers (various) (Trifolium spp) and Lucerne (Medicago sativa). Birds-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is also used.

Where To See This ButterflyEdit

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.

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