Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Searching for Sulphur on Nevis - Yellow Butterflies!

Here is the third installment of articles in memory of Jim Johnson (www.WalkNevis.com) who died tragically on Nevis recently. We are re-publishing a series of his articles over the coming weeks. Each one gives a fascinating insight into the man, his love of Nevis and his infinite knowledge of natural life on this beautiful Caribbean island.

This doesn’t mean searching for sulphur, that yellow compound used for making gunpowder and skin creams, but rather looking at all those little yellow butterflies that seem so prominent on Nevis. And they are Sulphurs, Sulphur butterflies!

Sulphurs are by far the most common butterfly found on Nevis and probably in the entire Caribbean Region. They are not just one species, but a whole family and, like families, have a wide range of sizes and colours. There are over 20 estimated types of Sulphurs found on Nevis.

Most are yellow with some type of black markings. Orange-barred Sulphers (three types) are generally larger in size and mostly yellow, but have orange spots or stripes. The smaller yellows seem to mainly be Hall’s Sulphur with a black lining around the outside of the wing.

But then there are White Sulphers, Great White Sulphers, and Florida White Sulphurs! These again are often hard to sort out by a “nonspecialist”, and should not be confused with “White Peacocks”. Some Sulphurs are green!

Sulphur caterpillars are green with yellow stripes and feed on a wide range of plants. They like water and adults can actually drink salt water, so are sometimes found out at sea migrating from one island to the other!

So why not go search for some sulphur!?

For more information please see our Definitive Caribbean Guide to Nevis.

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