(Pierid butterflies, including orangetips, whites, and sulphurs)
The following photographs represent my chance encounters with butterflies. If you're looking for a systematic photographic survey, I recommend the Butterflies of New Mexico web site maintained by Joe Schelling. Joe has helped me with multiple IDs.
The images are organized alphabetically by taxonomic level. Unlike moths, virtually all butterflies all fall into a single superfamily, the Papilionoidea, so my taxonomic breakdown begins with a separate page for each family. (The other pages cover the Hesperiidae (skippers), Lycaenidae (gossamer-winged butterflies), Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies), and Papilionidae (swallowtails). The images below are organized by genus and species. When you encounter a slide show, hover your cursor over the images to control them. If you see an error, please contact me via the Contact tab at the top of the page.
Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)
Southwestern Orangetip (Anthocharis sara thoosa)
Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme)
One photo was taken as a male butterfly prepared to fly off. The image is blurry but it shows the orange wings (with dark margins) that distinguish orange sulphurs from other species in Colias. In that photo the dark margins lack lighter spots, marking the butterfly as a male. When the males' wings are closed, they show yellow undersides. The females' underwings can be yellow or aqua.
Orange or Clouded Sulphur (Colias eurytheme or C. philodice)
The aqua underwing tint and spot pattern indicate that this female is either an orange sulphur or a clouded sulphur, but it's not possible to tell from the photos which of the two species she belongs to. To do that you need to see the tops of the wings. Based on my observations, only a small fraction of females of either species have wings with aqua rather than yellow undersides.
Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)
I know the butterflies in these pictures are clouded sulphurs because when their wings were open, the upper sides were lemon yellow. On a September morning in 2021 I saw at least 5,000 clouded sulphurs in Albuquerque's South Valley. I'm told that's not unusual this time of year, if you're near alfalfa fields.
Dainty Sulphur (Nathalis iole)
If a yellow-winged butterfly flits by and is smaller than the clouded sulphurs in the same area, it may well be a dainty sulphur.
Pine White (Neophasia menapia)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
I'm classifying these photos as showing cabbage whites because the wings have dots and the tips of the forewings are dark. My May 2023 photo of two cabbage whites isn't great but it shows the female with a raised abdomen, part of her "mate refusal posture." The posture signals her lack of interest, probably because she's already mated and needs to get on with laying eggs. Shortly after I took the picture the male gave up and flew off. The "mate refusal posture" occurs throughout this family of butterflies.
Checkered White (Pontia protodice)
The female checkered whites are more strongly marked than the males. As the males first flutter by, they look a lot like cabbage whites. As a close look shows, the markings on male checkered whites aren't round spots but a washed-out version of the pattern on females. I see this species all over the Albuquerque area.
Spring White (Pontia sisymbrii)
One reason to identify my two caterpillar photos as spring whites is, they're on an appropriate host plant (blue mustard).