A Little Yellow Invasion Year?

Little yellow found and photo’d by Will Kerling in Cape May Courthouse on 6-25-12.

The South Jersey status of Eurema lisa, the little yellow, seems something of a puzzle. Gochfeld & Burger note in their Butterflies Of New Jersey (1997) that it was apparently far more numerous a century ago than it is today. The authors cite the comments of the Rutgers entomologist Joseph Smith who noted in 1910 that “There is no time during the summer when it is not likely to be met along the shore.”

Today, any butterflyer meeting the species along the shore (or anywhere else in the state) will be at least happily surprised, if not jumping-up-and-down-thrilled. We have recorded the species only during one of our four previous years of logging — 2010. Between July 22 and October 31 that year we had 53 reports, totaling approximately 857 individuals, but 44 of those reports and 830 of the individuals came from Cape May County. We had just two reports from Burlington, two from Gloucester, and five from Cumberland, totaling 27 individuals. So, even in the best year we have had so far, the species was no easy find north of the Cape May peninsula. In fact, that doesn’t quite tell the story either, as many reports came from below the Cape May Canal at the southernmost tip of the state — from the State Park and elsewhere around the Point.

Could we be in for a different kind of event this year? We’ve had only three reports so far — May 6 (Tar Kiln Pond, Cape May Co, Michael O’Brien), June 11 (Hickman Ave, Cumberland County, Brian Johnson), and June 25 (photos above and below, Cape May Courthouse, Will Kerling) — but each of those is weeks earlier than our earliest report from 2010. That seems a good sign.

And three reports certainly beats zero reports from 2008, 2009, and 2011.

Here’s hoping that 2012 is a year when this lovely sulphur meets all of us along the shore somewhere!


Another view of the little yellow above, photo by Will Kerling, 6-25-12.

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