Little Yellow (Eurema lisa) (Boisduval and Le Conte, 1830)

Diagnosis: This is a small (wingspan: 31 to 36 mm) butterfly whose ground colour is bright yellow (sometimes white in females) with an even black border on both wings (greatly reduced in females). The underside is yellow green with a reddish spot near the margin of the hindwing.

Range: Although resident in the southeastern U.S., the Little Yellow ranges widely northward in migratory years. It has been recorded regularly in southeastern Canada, from Nova Scotia (four records) through southern Quebec and southern Ontario, north to Algonquin Park and with records from as far north as Nakina and Cochrane in northern Ontario. There are two records from Manitoba, one from Sandilands Provincial Forest and a recent record from Glenboro.

Similar Species: The Little Yellow resembles a very small Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice). The Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole) is much smaller, with more black on the upperside and orange on the forewing underside. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is green with several lateral white lines. It feeds on a variety of legumes (Fabaceae). It has established temporary colonies, at least for one generation, in southern and eastern Ontario, but does not overwinter in Canada.

Abundance: Although in most of its Canadian range it is seen only in years with large butterfly migrations from the south, it is recorded in most years in southwestern Ontario.

Flight Season: The first migrant Little Yellows usually show up in southern Ontario in June and in some locations, such as Point Pelee, Ontario, the next generation emerges in July and flies into September.

Habits: This tends to be a butterfly of open fields and roadsides.

Remarks: The Little Yellow is one of the more common migrants in its family in southern Canada. In some migratory years, large numbers can be found, particularly along the north shore of Lake Erie.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.