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Archived-by-Date Pages


Sleepy Oranges (Eurema nicippe)

The appearances of Sleepy Oranges vary on a long and fascinating continuum that has a strong relationship to climate, apparently, which in turn is a function of time of year and location.  The wing patterns each seem to fall into one of four basic patterns, each one typically appearing at a different time in butterfly season. 

I think it would be fun to do a pattern analysis of these wing markings to sort out the influence of these variables and see if any hybridization is going on (which seems at first glance to be minimal).  They might be interesting to scientists studying the impact of environment on genetic expression, which this strongly suggests.

2005 was an unusual year for wing patterns: some with patterns most often seen in July showed up during the northeasterly course Hurricane Katrina took after the eye made landfall in Louisiana on August 29.  Hurricane Ophelia, which made landfall on the southern North Carolina coast on September 12 and continued up the coast for several days, may have had a similar effect.

Pattern I

Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 7/23/04.  Classic summer form, with the splash of brown color on a yellow background on a large, rounded hind wing.  I will call it Pattern I. Sleepy Orange, Penny's Bend Nature Preserve, Durham County, NC, 8/8/10 Durham, 9/2/05.  Pattern I.  But things happened pretty late this year, and this butterfly may have been brought north by Hurricane Katrina, which hit land at Grand Isle, LA, August 29, 2005. Duke Gardens, Durham County, 9/17/05.  Pattern I.  Another anomaly, perhaps blown northward by Hurricane Ophelia in mid-September. Durham, NC, 10/13/05.  Pattern I.

Pattern II

Sleepy Orange visiting a Salt Marsh Mallow, North Carolina Botanical Garden, Orange County, NC, 8/17/18 Foot of Little Scaly Mountain, Macon County, NC, about 3900 feet in elevation, 8/19/04.  This butterfly and the one pictured at right are at about the same Pattern, even though this one showed up over a month earlier in the year at this colder location.  Pattern II. Mason Farm Biological Reserve, 9/8/05.  This butterfly may be a little foreshortened.  Pattern II.  Oddly enough, lots of Pattern I Sleepy Oranges were flying around another part of Mason Farm. Duke Gardens, NC, 9/17/05. Early Pattern II.


Raulston Arboretum, Wake County, NC, 9/23/05.   Pattern II. Alligator River National Wildlife Reserve, Dare County, NC, 9/25/04.  The hindwing is somewhat narrower and the middle brown slash is starting to look like a dimple, but the color has not changed.  Pattern II.  Note: Alligator River NWR is at about the same latitude as Raleigh. Carolina Beach SP, New Hanover County, NC, 9/27/03.  Pattern II. Duke Forest, Gate 12, Durham, NC, 9/29/05.  Pattern II. Sleepy Orange, Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC,  9/30/07.  Pattern II.          



Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 10/16/05.  Pattern II. Sleepy Orange, Durham, NC, 11/1/06.  A Pattern II Sleepy Orange, unusual for so late in the year. Butterfly Garden, NC Zoo, Asheboro, Randolph County, NC, 11/13/05.  This was un unseasonably warm day, with highs in the mid-70s, so maybe it came up from farther south. Pettigrew family cemetery, Pettigrew State Park, Washington County, NC, 1/1/06.  Pattern II.  This one was a big surprise!


Pattern III

Durham, 9/15/05.  Pattern III. Sleepy Orange, Raulston Arboretum, 9/30/07 Jordan Lake, Chatham County, NC, 10/16/05.  Pattern III. Sleepy Orange, Duke Forest, Gate 12, Durham, NC, 10/14/05. Pattern III. Raulston Arboretum, 9/23/05.  Late Pattern III.


Duke Forest, Gate 12, Durham, NC, 9/29/05.  Pattern III. Duke Forest, Gate 12, Durham, NC, 9/29/05.  Pattern III. Mason Farm Biological Reserve, Orange County, NC, 10/2/05.  Pattern III. Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC 9/20/03.  This Sleepy Orange and the one pictured at its right are possibly worn but otherwise have the same markings as the Dare County individual pictured at the left.  Pattern III. Durham, 10/5/02.  Also very worn.  Pattern III. Dare County, 10/5/05.  Pattern III. Dare County, 10/6/05.  Pattern III.

Sleepy Orange, Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, Wake County, NC, 9/30/07, Pattern III. Sleepy Orange on Carolina Ironweed, Weymouth Woods State Park, Southern Pines, Moore County, NC, 10/23/12    

Pattern IV

Winter form Sleepy Orange. Jordan Lake Dam, Chatham County, NC, 9/20/10.  Pattern IV. Raulston Arboretum, 9/23/05.  The orange hind wing and the complete conversion of the middle brown slash into a dimple heralds late fall. Pattern IV. Carolina Beach SP, New Hanover County, NC, 11/13/03.  Pattern IV. Durham, 10/13/05.  Pattern IV. Pitt County Arboretum, Greenville, NC, 9/21/08.  Pattern IV.


Durham, 10/13/05. Pattern IV Lake Crabtree, Wake County, NC, 10/13/05.   Pattern IV. Greenville, Pitt County, NC, 2/16/06.  Hind wing partially blocked by a bush.  Pattern IV. Indian Creek Wildlife Observation Trail, Chatham County, NC, 3/10/06.  Pattern IV. Sleepy Orange, Durham, NC, 3/14/21 Carolina Beach State Park, New Hanover County, NC, 10/22/14. Pattern IV.

Dorsal Views
Pitt County Arboretum, Greenville, NC, 9/21/08    

Copyright  2005-2021 Dorothy E. Pugh