Sep 22 2013
I was captivated by this photo Steve Valasek took in New Mexico. What butterflies are these?
Chuck Tague filled me in:
These are Sleepy Orange butterflies, Eurema nicippe (or Abaeis nicippe), a common sulphur butterfly in the southern U.S. They range as far north as western Pennsylvania and occur regularly in a field near Mark and Loree’s place in Rostraver. Some years they irrupt northward in good numbers.
The two in this photo are males. They need minerals to reproduce which they’re extracting from wet mud or sand (called puddling).
Sleepy Oranges are common now in Florida. I’ve raised several this year and collected an egg about a month ago that should emerge from its chrysalis this week. Here’s a photo of one that just eclosed:
Google “Eurema nicippe” and you’ll see that the ventral side of the butterfly (underwing, wings closed) is not as interesting as the dorsal side (top, wings open). Click here to see a Sleepy Orange with its wings open.
And why “sleepy”? There are two theories: It flies slowly for a sulphur (this notion is disputed) –or– The two spots on its dorsal wings look like sleepy eyes.