The Rio Grande Valley's Nature Site

Dainty Sulphur - Nathalis iole Life Cycle Study

Home | Contact Us | Jan's Nature Photos

Return to Life Cycle Studies of Lower Rio Grande Valley Butterflies

On April 3, 2010, I observed and photographed a Dainty Sulphur - Nathalis iole deposit an egg on the very common South Texas wildflower, Tiny Tim - Thymophylla tenuiloba.  I collected the plant with the egg, brought it home to put into a bug box, and began a 22 day study of the tiny sulphur's life cycle. 

Although not a very dramatic study, it was, however, interesting to see how quickly the newly eclosed caterpillar consumed its egg case and how in three days its face color went from black to green.

All photos on this site are by Jan Dauphin and are copyright protected and may not be used or published elsewhere without the permission of Jan Dauphin

Tiny Tim - Thymophylla tenuiloba, a very common, low-growing wildflower in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, is the caterpillar food plant of the Dainty Sulphur - Nathalis iole.


On 4/3/2010 at 1508 hrs., a Dainty Sulphur - Nathalis iole was observed laying an egg on Tiny Tim - Thymophylla tenuiloba.  The plant with the egg was collected and brought home to begin Day-1 of this life cycle study.


4/3/2010, Day-1 as an egg.  There is a tiny speck of dust on the left side of the egg; I was concerned that I might damage the egg, if I tried to remove the speck.


4/6/2010 at 2050 hrs., Day-4 from when the egg was laid.  The caterpillar has eclosed, beginning Day-1 as a caterpillar.  The caterpillar measured 1.0 mm.  After I measured the caterpillar, it immediately began to consume its egg case.


4/6/2010 at 2114 hrs., after less than 25 mins. from eclosing, the caterpillar as eaten over 1/2 of its egg case.


4/6/2010 at 2145 hrs., after less than one hour from eclosing, the caterpillar has consumed its entire egg case.


4/9/2010, Day-7 from the egg, Day-4 as a caterpillar.  The caterpillar is 4.0 mm long.  Notice that ever since eclosing, the caterpillar has had a black face.


4/12/2010, Day-10 from the egg, Day-7 as a caterpillar.  The caterpillar measured 8.0 mm.  Notice that the caterpillar's face has turned green.


4/15/2010, Day-13 from the egg, Day-10 as a caterpillar.  The caterpillar is 16 mm. long, doubling in length in just 3 days.


4/18/2010, Day-16 from when the egg was laid, Day-13 as a caterpillar.  The caterpillar has formed a chrysalis, and of course, I missed the transformation.


4/20/2010, Day-18 from when the egg was laid, Day-15 from eclosing, and Day-3 as a chrysalis.  There is very little difference in the chrysalis' appearance since it was formed.


4/22/2010, Day-20 from when the egg was laid, Day-17 from eclosing, Day-5 as a chrysalis.  This is the first day you can see the yellow coloring in the wings. 


4/24/2010, Day-22 from when the egg was laid, Day-19 from eclosing, Day-7 as a chrysalis.  You can definitely see the dark pattern in the wings (the dorsal side of the wings of butterflies always face to the outside of the chrysalis).


4/25/2010 at 0637 hrs., Day-23 from the egg, Day-20 from eclosing, Day-8 as a chrysalis.  Overnight there has been major changes in the chrysalis.  This darkening of the chrysalis always indicates the butterfly is ready to emerge, soon.  We are leaving our upper Texas coast hotel, taking this guy with us, as we head up to the Big Thicket area of east Texas for some I probably will miss the emergence.


4/25/2010 at 1100 hrs., Day-23 from when the egg was laid, Day-20 from eclosing, Day-8 as a chrysalis.  The Dainty Sulphur has emerged.  When we got out of our car at 1000 hrs., to go on a hike to chase butterflies, there was still a chrysalis.  When we returned at 1100 hrs., the butterfly had emerged.  Once more I have missed photographing the emergence of a butterfly!