Clouded Yellow

Clouded Yellow

The Clouded Yellow is one of the truly migratory European butterflies and a regular visitor to Britain and Ireland. Although some of these golden-yellow butterflies are seen every year, the species is famous for occasional mass immigrations and subsequent breeding, which are fondly and long remembered as »Clouded Yellow Years». A small proportion of females are pale yellow (form helice), which can be confused with the rarer Pale and Berger’s Clouded Yellows.

Size and Family

  • Family: Whites and yellows
  • Size: Large
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 57-62mm

Caterpillar Foodplants

A range of leguminous plants is used, including wild and cultivated clovers (Trifolium spp.), Lucerne (Medicago sativa), and less frequently, Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus).



Clouded Yellows may be seen in any habitat, but congregate in flowery places where the larval foodplants grow. As clovers are still commonly cultivated, the Clouded Yellow is one of the few butterfly species that have no difficulty locating breeding habitat in the modern farmed countryside. In southern England, there is a preference for unimproved chalk downland.


As its English names suggest, the Gatekeeper (also known as the Hedge Brown) is often encountered where clumps of flowers grow in gateways and along hedgerows and field edges. It is often seen together with the Meadow Brown and Ringlet, from which it is easily distinguished when basking or nectaring with open wings.

The colour and patterning of the wings are very variable and about a dozen aberrations have been named. Favourite nectar sources include Wild Marjoram, Common Fleabane, ragworts, and Bramble.

It is widespread in southern Britain and its range has extended northwards in recent years. Its range is far more localized in southern Ireland.

Size and Family

  • Family: Browns
  • Size: Medium
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 40-47mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low
  • European status: Not threatened

Caterpillar Foodplants

Various grasses are used, with a preference for fine grasses such as bents (Agrostis spp.), fescues (Festuca spp.), and meadow-grasses (Poa spp.). Common Couch (Elytrigia repens) is also used. The full range of other species used is not known.



Found where tall grasses grow close to hedges, trees or scrub. Typical habitats are along hedgerows and in woodland rides. The butterfly can also occur in habitats such as; undercliffs, heathland and downland where there are patches of scrub.


The Brimstone has spread in recent years, mainly in northern England. When this butterfly roosts among foliage, the angular shape and the strong veining of their wings closely resembles leaves.

There is a view that the word ‘butterfly’ originates from the yellow colour of male Brimstones. The wings of the female are very pale green, almost white, males have yellow-green underwings and yellow upperwings.

Size and Family

  • Family: Whites and Yellows
  • Size: Large
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 60mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation Priority: Low
  • Europan Status: Not threatened
  • Fully protected under the Northern Ireland 1985 Wildlife Order

Caterpillar Foodplants

The larvae feed on leaves of Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), which occurs mainly on calcareous soils, and Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus), which is found on moist acid soils and wetlands.



Occurs in scrubby grassland and woodland. The butterfly ranges widely and can often be seen flying along roadside verges and hedgerows.

Assessing the status of the monarch butterfly

Tagged monarch butterfly in Minnesota.
Photo by Katie Steiger-Meister/USFWS.

In 2014, we were petitioned to protect the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act. Based on information in the petition, we determined that federally protecting the monarch may be warranted and we published a 90-day substantial finding in the Federal Register on December 31, 2014. Publication of the 90-day finding also announced that we would conduct a thorough assessment to determine if the monarch butterfly needs Endangered Species Act protection. We are now conducting the assessment using the Species Status Assessment framework.

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Learn more

90-Day warranted finding on petition; Service initiates status review

Conservation for species being evaluated for listing

Many folks are taking action to conserve monarch butterflies. Sometimes early conservation efforts can prevent the need to list a species under the Endangered Species Act, if they are effective. Below are tools used under the Act to encourage and document conservation for species that we are considering for listing.

Overwintering monarch butterflies in California.
Photo by Lisa Hupp/USFWS.

One of the principal ways of identifying appropriate conservation efforts is through the development of a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA). CCAs are formal, voluntary agreements between the Service and one or more parties to address the conservation needs of candidate species or species likely to become candidates in the near future.

This policy offers assurances as an incentive for non-Federal property owners to implement conservation measures for species that are proposed for listing under the Act, species that are candidates for listing, and species that are likely to become candidates or proposed in the near future.

When making a listing decision, the Endangered Species Act requires the Service to take into account all conservation efforts being made to protect a species. This policy identifies criteria we use in determining whether formal conservation efforts that have yet to be implemented or to show effectiveness contribute to making listing a species unnecessary.

What’s next

June 13, 2018

Late June 2018

Peer review of Draft Species Status Assessment Report

Monarch Butterfly

The monarch, well known for its distinctive orange, black and white markings, is one of the most recognizable and strikingly beautiful species of butterfly. Adult monarch butterflies have two pairs of brilliant orange-red wings, featuring black veins and white spots along the edges. Males have a distinguishing black dot along the veins of their hind wing.

Each fall monarchs set out on an incredible 5,000-kilometre journey to their wintering sites in the mountain forests of Mexico, where they cluster together from late October through March. It’s one of the world’s longest insect migrations.

© Frank Parhizgar / WWF-Canada

The Monarch’s migration

Many monarchs journey from southern Canada through the United States to Mexico, where they overwinter in forests of oyamel fir trees. Although most of these trees are now located in protected areas, many have already been lost.

Phase two – spring
The monarchs begin the journey north. Female monarchs stop to lay their eggs on milkweed plants where they can. The caterpillars eat the leaves, eventually transforming into butterflies that continue northward.

Phase three – summer
Two to three generations after leaving Mexico, the monarchs begin to arrive in southern Canada.

Monarch habitat

© Frank Parhizgar / WWF-Canada

In their caterpillar stage, the monarch’s sole source of food is the milkweed plant. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed plants so the caterpillar can begin to feed right away.

Once they emerge as adults, they can start sipping nectar from a variety of native flowers. Some favourites are echinacea, black-eyed susan, sage, goldenrod, zinnias and dahlias.

Steps you can take to help monarch butterflies:

1. Plant milkweed:

  • Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) – grows in well-drained soil
  • Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) – grows in well-drained soil
  • Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) – grows in damper, marshy areas

2. Plant these and other butterfly friendly flowers:

  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Canada goldenrod (Soilidago canadensis)

How WWF helps

With one of the longest migrations of any insect in the world, there are many places where monarchs can become vulnerable. That’s why WWF is working across the monarch’s epic migration route to conserve its habitat.

As part of a conservation network across Canada, the United States and Mexico, we’re fighting to protect forests, combat climate change and preserve the monarch’s migratory path. Plus, we’re encouraging the development of pollinator-friendly habitats through programs such as:

  • In the Zone, which invites people living in Carolinian zone to cultivate backyard habitats for wildlife. Join us at
  • Biopolis, which brings together citizens and conservationists to protect and enhance urban biodiversity in Montreal. Check out
  • Go Wild Community Grants, which fund groups and individuals working to restore habitat, monitor species at risk, protect biodiversity and generate solutions to the conservation challenges facing their communities.
  • Go Wild School Grants, which fund educational, hands-on projects that give students the opportunity to help nature and wildlife in their communities.

Key Facts

Scientific name: Danaus plexippus
Common name(s): Monarch butterfly
Status: Endangered
Weight: Less than .5 grams
Length: Wingspan of 7-10 cm
Lifespan: Monarchs live for 2-6 weeks, with the exception of the late summer generation, which lives 6-7 months overwintering in Mexico.


During the past two decades, WWF has seen a dramatic and sustained decrease of the area occupied by monarchs on their wintering grounds, from almost 18.2 hectares of forest at their peak in 1996 to just 2.5 hectares in 2017.

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Monarchs are threatened by deforestation of wintering forests in Mexico, disruptions to their migration caused by climate change, and the loss of native plants (particularly milkweed) along their migratory corridors.

Researchers say that the historic hurricane season and warmer than usual weather, which delayed migration in some parts of Canada and the United States, may have also contributed to reduced numbers in 2017.

In Canada, the monarch was recommended for listing as Endangered under the Species at Risk Act in December 2016.

Did you know?

Each adult butterfly lives for two to six weeks, except for the migrating generation, which lives up to seven months through the fall and winter.

Pollinators, including the monarch, are responsible for almost all of the fruits and vegetables we eat. Plus, they’re the reason those beautiful flowers keep growing in your garden.

The monarch butterfly’s scientific name is Danaus plexippus, which literally means «sleepy transformation,» evoking the species’ ability to hibernate and metamorphize.

Adult butterflies develop sex organs within three days of emerging from their chrysalis and begin to reproduce five days later.

12 Plants That Butterflies Love

Easy-to-Grow Nectar Plants for a Butterfly Garden

  • B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University

Want to bring butterflies to your backyard? Of course! To make your garden attractive to your colorful guests, you’ll need to provide a good source of nectar. These 12 perennials are butterfly favorites and if you plant them, they will come—especially your butterfly garden is located in a sunny area. Butterflies like to bask in the rays of the sun and they need to stay warm in order to remain aloft. Perennials come back year after year, and all of the ones listed below flourish in sunny locations.

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)

Garden phlox might have been something your grandma used to grow but butterflies don’t mind in the least. With clusters of fragrant flowers on tall stems, garden phlox offers nectar in summer and fall. Plant Phlox paniculata and expect visits from clouded sulphurs (Phoebis sennae), European cabbage butterflies, silvery checkerspots, and all kinds of swallowtails.

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)

Blanket flower is a «plant and ignore» flower. It’s drought tolerant and can handle poor soil conditions. Once established, it will push out blooms right until the first frost. Few butterflies will roll up their proboscises and flutter away from this one. Once it blooms, be on the lookout for sulphurs, whites, and swallowtails.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Several plants go by the name «butterfly weed» but Asclepias tuberosa deserves the name like no other. Monarchs will be twice as happy when you plant this bright orange flower since it is both a source of nectar and a host plant for their caterpillars. Butterfly weed starts slow but the flowers are worth the wait. You might need a field guide to identify all its visitors. Anything from coppers, hairstreaks, fritillaries, swallowtails, spring azures, and of course, monarchs are likely to show up.

Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Goldenrod’s had a bad rap for years due to the fact its yellow blooms appear at the same time as the sneeze-inducing ragweed. Don’t be fooled, though—Solidago canadensis is a worthwhile addition to your butterfly garden. Its fragrant flowers appear in summer and continue through autumn. Butterflies that nectar on goldenrod includes checkered skippers, American small coppers, clouded sulphurs, pearl crescents, gray hairstreaks, monarchs, giant swallowtails, and all manner of fritillaries.

New England Aster (Aster novae-angiae)

Asters are the flowers you likely drew as a child boasting many-petaled blossoms with a button-like disk in the center. When it comes to attracting butterflies, any variety of aster will do. New England asters are prized for their prolific flowers late in the year, which coincide nicely with the ​monarch migration. In addition to monarchs, asters attract buckeyes, skippers, painted ladies, pearl crescents, sleepy oranges, and spring azures.

Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

Joe-pye weed is great for the back of a garden bed, where at nearly six feet in height, they tower over lesser perennials. While some gardening books list Eupatorium as a shade-loving plant at home in wetland areas, it can survive just about anywhere, including a full-sun butterfly garden. Another late-season bloomer, Joe-pye weed is an all-purpose backyard habitat plant, attracting all kinds of butterflies, as well as bees and hummingbirds.

Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Liatris spicata goes by many names: blazing star, gayfeather, ​liatris, and button snakeroot. Butterflies—especially buckeyes—and bees love it no matter what the name. With showy purple spikes of flowers and leaves that resemble clumps of grass, the blazing star makes an interesting addition to any perennial garden. Try interspersing a few white varieties (Liatris spicata ‘alba’) to a butterfly bed for more contrast.

Tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata)

Coreopsis is one of the easiest perennials to grow, and with little effort, you’ll get a reliable show of summer flowers. The variety shown here is threadleaf coreopsis, but really any coreopsis will do. Their yellow blossoms attract smaller butterflies such as skippers and whites.

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Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

If you want low-maintenance gardening, purple coneflower is another excellent choice. Echinacea purpurea is a native prairie flower of the U.S. and a well-known medicinal plant. Generously sized purple flowers with drooping petals make excellent landing pads for larger nectar seekers such as monarchs and swallowtails.

Stonecrop ‘Autumn Joy’ (Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’)

While it’s not the showy, colorful perennial you might picture when thinking of a butterfly garden, you can’t keep the butterflies off of sedum. With succulent stems, sedum almost looks like a desert plant before its late-season bloom. Sedums attract a variety of butterflies: American painted ladies, buckeyes, gray hairstreaks, monarchs, painted ladies, pearl crescents, pepper & salt skippers, silver-spotted skippers, and fritillaries.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

Another North American native, black-eyed Susans bloom from summer to frost. Rudbeckia is a prolific bloomer, which is why it’s such a popular perennial and an excellent nectar source for butterflies. Look for larger butterflies like swallowtails and monarchs on these yellow flowers.

Bee Balm (Monarda)

It might be obvious that a plant named «bee balm» would attract bees but it’s equally attractive to butterflies. Monarda produces tufts of red, pink, or purple flowers on the tops of tall stems. Be careful where you plant it though, as this member of the mint family will spread. Checkered whites, fritillaries, Melissa Blues, and swallowtails all adore bee balm.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Hybrid Poplar

Steve Daggar Photography / Getty Images

  • B.S., Forest Resource Management, University of Georgia

A «hybrid» plant is produced when pollen of one species is used to fertilize flowers of another species. A hybrid poplar is a tree resulting from the combining, either naturally or artificially, of various poplar species into a hybrid.

Hybrid poplars (Populus spp.) are among the fastest-growing trees in North America and well suited for certain conditions. Poplar hybrids are not desirable in many landscapes but can be of major importance under certain forestry conditions.

Should I Plant a Hybrid Poplar?

It depends. The tree can be effectively used by tree farmers and large property owners under certain conditions. Most hybrid poplars are a landscaping nightmare when grown in yards and parks. The populus species are susceptible to fungal leaf spots that defoliate trees by late summer. The poplar tree is extremely susceptible to a devastating canker and dies an ugly death in just a few years. Still, poplar just may be the most planted ornamental tree in America.

Where Did the Hybrid Poplar Come From?

Members of the willow family, hybrid poplars are crosses between North America’s cottonwoods, aspens, and Europe’s poplars. Poplars were first used as windbreaks for European fields and hybridized in Britain in 1912 using a cross between European and North American species.

Planting hybrid poplar for profit started in the 1970s. Forest Service’s Wisconsin lab led in U.S. hybrid poplar research. The Poplar has restored its reputation by offering a new source of alternative fuels and fiber.

Why Grow Hybrid Poplar?

  • Hybrids grow six to ten times faster than similar species. Tree farmers can see economic returns in 10 to 12 years.
  • Hybrid poplar research has reduced the disease problems. There are now commercially available disease-resistant trees.
  • Hybrids are easy to plant. You can plant an unrooted dormant cutting or «stick.»
  • Growth off stump sprouts insures future trees with little or no planting costs.
  • There is an ever-increasing list of primary uses being developed for hybrid poplar.

What Are the Primary Commercial Uses of Hybrid Poplar?

  • Pulpwood: There is an increasing need for aspen for the production of wood products in the Lake States. Hybrid poplar may be substituted here.
  • Engineered Lumber Products: Hybrid poplar can be used in the process of making oriented strand board and, possibly, structural lumber.
  • Energy: Burning wood does not increase atmospheric carbon monoxide(CO). The hybrid poplar absorbs as much CO over its lifetime as is given off in burning so it «mitigates» amount of CO given off.

What Are Alternative Uses of Hybrid Poplar?

Hybrid poplar is extremely beneficial in ways not directly profitable. Property owners can stabilize stream banks and agricultural lands by planting and encouraging hybrid poplar growth. Windbreaks of poplar have protected fields in Europe for centuries. In addition to protecting soil from wind erosion, the windbreaks protect livestock and humans from cold winds and increase wildlife habitat and aesthetics.

Phytoremediation and the Hybrid Poplar

In addition to the above values of hybrid poplar, it makes an excellent «phytoremediator.» Willows and specifically hybrid poplar have the ability to take up harmful waste products and lock them away in their woody stems. Municipal and corporate institutions are becoming more and more encouraged by new research showing the benefits of planting hybrid poplar to naturally clean up toxic waste.

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