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Statira Sulphur Butterfly
statira sulphur
Statira sulphur butterfly, photographed at John D. MacArthur Beach State Park., North Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, in July 2014.
statira sulphur butterfly  

The statira sulphur butterfly, Aphrissa statira, is medium-sized butterfly that is fairly common in South Florida. It is a creature of the tropics, and the extreme southern United States, including Florida, South Texas and New Mexico is the northern end of its normal range. Not being entirely proficient in geography it does occasionally wander into southern Georgia and even as far north as Kansas.

The other end of statira sulphurs' range extends as far south as Argentina.

This butterfly has a wingspan between two-and-three-eighths inches and three-and-an-eighth inches. The wings of the male when folded are pale green to lemon yellow. They're "pure," lacking either spots or lines of other colors seen on other sulphurs. The upper side of the wings are distinct, pale on the outside edges and lemon yellow toward the inside (as seen in the photo below). Females are lemon yellow with a black border on the wings.

Statira butterflies are found in scrubs, along rivers and the edges of forests. In the tropics, it is a migratory butterfly, usually following rivers. Males often light on moist river sand to sip water, and often congregate there in large numbers — as many as a hundred have been seen occupying a single square foot. The butterfly at the left and bottom was found on the sandy banks of a pond in Boynton Beach.

Its host plants include coin vine and calliandra — females lay a single egg on the leaves of these plants, where the next generation of statiras will begin life eating away. Adult statira butterflies dine on the nectar of red-flowered plants, including firebush, as photographed above.

 
 
statura sulphur butterfly with wings open

The population of statira sulphurs is considered secure, although it can be rare in parts of its range.

The statira sulphur is a member of the Pieridae family of mostly tropical white, yellow or orange medium to small butterflies.

We've also seen the scientific name of the statira sulphur listed as Phoebe statira, but Aphrissa statira seems to be more widely accepted.

As for its common name, we're not quite sure its origins. We're guessing the name comes from the wife/sister of Darius III of Persia, considered at the time to be the most beautiful woman in all of Asia. She became wife to Alexander the Great after Darius's defeat at the battle Issus.

     
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