Sleepy Orange (Eurema nicippe) (Cramer, [1779])

Diagnosis: The deep orange wing colour with the broad black border on the hindwing makes this medium-sized (wingspan: 30 to 48 mm) species very distinct. The underside is yellow with dark brown markings.

Range: Because this is only a rare stray in Canada, records for this common southern U.S. species are few and scattered. Based on a specimen in the Canadian National Collection in Ottawa, it has been reported by many authors as having been found once at Point Pelee and at Ottawa, in 1882. However, this was based on misinterpretations of early collection labels. There are only four valid Canadian records, three from southwestern Ontario one from Quetico Provincial Park in northwestern Ontario.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: Only the much more common Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) could be mistaken for this species. The Sleepy Orange is a deeper colour, with very differently shaped black borders; it lacks the silver spot on the hindwing below characteristic of sulphurs in the genus Colias. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larva is green with a white and yellow lateral line; it feeds on various species of senna (Cassia spp., Fabaceae), but is unlikely to occur in Canada.

Abundance: This is a very rare stray in Canada.

Flight Season: In the southern U.S. nicippe has multiple generations for most of the year. The first two Canadian records were on 14 May (Scarborough) and 21 June (Quetico National Park), which are surprisingly early; like most southern migrant species, populations build up throughout the summer and even northern and central U.S. records are usually in late summer.

Habits: This is another migratory sulphur that could occur in southern Canada in years when southern migrants are abundant.

Remarks: The Sleepy Orange has been reported from Scarborough (Toronto) in 1990, at Kitchener, Point Pelee, and one phtographed in Quetico Provincial Park, in northwestern Ontario, in 1978.

© 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.