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  • clouded yellow & pale clouded yellow

Clouded yellow

Pictured: clouded yellow, Colias croceus

Notes from Jenyns: Two specimens of this insect occurred to me in Sept. 1826. The first on the Cambridge road near Teversham Hedges, the second at Bottisham Lode. ~ Taken also in Cambridgeshire by Vernon in the time of Ray. ~ See Raj. Ins. p. 112. no. 6. Since taken at Horseheath, & near Ely & on the Devils Ditch. ~

200-year trend in Cambridgeshire: Little change.

Modern records

Jenyns’ notes show that as with today, this species was visiting Cambridgeshire nearly 200 years ago. The clouded yellow is a regular migrant from Europe but as with all of our migrant butterflies, numbers can vary by a large amount year on year. Occasionally, huge ‘bumper years’ are recorded, where hundreds or even thousands of individual butterflies make the journey across the channel. In former times fields of leguminous plants such as clover and lucerne would have supported temporary breeding populations, but this species did not survive British winters until a few very recent examples were discovered on the south coast, indicative of climate-change related range expansion.

National records map

Clouded yellow national records map:

Pale clouded yellow, Colias hyale


Notes from Jenyns: Many specimens taken on the Devils Ditch in 1844. ~ Taken also at Fordham.

200-year trend in Cambridgeshire: Little change, possible slight decline.

Modern records

This migratory species is much rarer than the closely related clouded yellow, Colias croceus. It is also very hard to distinguish from a pale ‘helice’ form of Colias croceus, as well as another very closely related species, the Berger’s clouded yellow, which was only recognised in 1945.  Therefore, some historical records are likely misidentifications, and could potentially represent any of these three species. Taking ‘many’ specimens, as recorded in Jenyns’ notes, was probably not a common occurrence and as today, pale and Berger’s clouded yellow butterflies were likely very rare in most years.

National records map

Pale clouded yellow national records map:

Berger’s clouded yellow national records map: