Q: I saw a large yellow and orange butterfly in my yard and don’t know what it is. Because of the yellow, I think it’s some type of a sulfur butterfly and it has orange blotches on the wings. Can you help me identify it?
A: It sounds as though you have an Orange-Barred Giant Sulfur, Phoebis philea . The female’s and male’s coloring are a bit different. Females have squared wings with dark-brown edges on the front wings and a reddish color on the back wing edges. The reddish color has a row of red-brown ovals on the edge. Males have solid yellow wings with an orange marking on the front wing. From the underside, both have a solid orange-yellow, darker in the female, and a dark-ringed white spot in the center of each wing. Wingspan is 2¾ to 3 inches.
As a caterpillar, it has a brown stripe running down the side of its green body, and it feeds on senna/cassia. I just found an Orange-Barred Giant Sulfur on Fakahatchee grass near the ground in my yard. As I feared, it was on the way out of this world, but what a sight to behold!