Monday, January 4, 2010

The Cloudless Sulphur’s Leaf Shaped Chrysalis


The Cloudless caterpillar attaches itself to stationary object before making its unique chrysalis. To secure its body the caterpillar attaches its hind legs to a branch and then wraps a silk strand around its waist. After patient waiting, its skin will begin to split. Underneath is a soft chrysalis that looks like a leaf!

green chrysalis

The Cloudless Sulphur's chrysalis blends in with the surrounding leaves of its host plant. The chrysalis's green color and arched shape helps to further disguise the developing butterfly. On the chrysalis are white or green lines that look like the veins of a leaf. The chrysalis is pointed on both ends to look like the stem of a leaf.

 yellow chrysalisIMG_2252

Cloudless Sulphur chrysalises can be green, yellow, pink, and I have even found a purple chrysalis. Green chrysalises are best disguised when around green leaves. The yellow chrysalises are camouflaged among yellow flowers of the Cassia trees. In fall as leaves change color and die, Cloudless Sulphurs can make a purple or pink colored chrysalis that is well disguised. The chrysalises will have a better chance of survival through blending in with their surrounding.


The Cloudless Sulphur chrysalis becomes thinner as the butterfly's emergence draws near. Its yellow wings become visible through the transparent chrysalis. As the sun heats up the chrysalis the butterfly gains energy. Using all of its strength it pushes the chrysalis open. First, its head slowly slides out. Then its wings, and lastly its abdomen follows. Its wings expand and harden as it pumps fluid from its abdomen into the veins of its wings. Its wings will dry and be ready for flight in a couple of hours.

Cloudless Sulphur camoflauge

The Cloudless Sulphur butterfly can be found from southern United States, through Central America, and to the northern part of Argentina. To survive, the Cloudless Sulpur butterfly has the shape similar to that of a leaves. This camouflage is so detailed that even the veins on the butterfly's wings duplicates that of the veins on leaves. The Cloudless Sulphur's yellow color blends in with yellow flowers and dying leaves of the plants on which it feeds. Mimicking leaves is used by many different insects to provide protection from predators.

To see how the Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar uses camouflage click on the following link.

My Costa Rica tour is in 8 days!


  1. Awesome post great information thank you!
    Can you tell me whey my chrysalis would be turning black? They are the exact same type of butterfly you are describing and that are in the photos. I'm afraid they are not doing well.

    1. Sounds like it succumbed to bacterial disease. Is it a bit mushy?

  2. Thanks so much! You helped my son and I ID a chrysalis in our backyard. Now we can properly update our Dada and Kiddo Backyard Photography blog!

  3. Good information! Thank you. I just found a Cloudless Sulphur coming up my front walk the other day. I moved him to my milkweed plant since I had no idea what type of caterpillar he was (at the time) and wanted to watch him. He has since pupated and is now a beautiful pinkish green color and is on my milkweed plant with my monarch caterpillar. My question - how long is his pupation? I'm in Southern California and the weather is just now starting to cool. Thank you!

    1. The host plant for the Cloudless Sulphur is Cassia. Usually butterflies stay in their chrysalis for 7 - 10 days. It might take longer because of the cooler weather.