Species Spotlight – Eurema nicippe

Eurema nicippe

Sleepy Orange butterfly arrives in Quakertown to feed on local Senna marilandica that we planted in our 2-acre seed production meadow

Eurema nicippe – Sleepy Orange

ArcheWild planted locally-collected Senna marilandica in our 2-acre seed production meadow about 10 years ago and we sighted our first Eurema nicippe (Sleepy Orange) in 2018.  In 2019, we observed at least 5 different individuals flying around.  We hadn’t been looking for caterpillars to see if they overwintered but will start doing so.  The butterflies are fast and hard to photograph.  It took about an hour of cat-and-mouse to get a decent image of the individual depicted in the gallery.

2019 ArcheWild - Senna marilandica

One of the underlying promises of “planting native” is that they can attract and support unusual to rare insects and other animals.  Sighting this Eurema nicippe (Sleepy Orange) is a good testament that this promise can become reality.  A few years ago, a beautiful pipevine swallowtail visited our wall of Aristolochia macrophylla and its caterpillars devoured every leaf.  So we know that, “if you plant them, they will come!”

Senna marilandica is a tall herbaceous perennial that grows quite happily in wet clay soils and produces vast quantities of bright yellow flowers that draw in pollinators of larger sizes.  Senna produces many seed but they usually must be scarified by hand or through a bird’s digestive tract for quick germination.  Otherwise, the seeds will just lay dormant in the moist soil until they’ve absorbed enough moisture through their tough seed coat to germinate on their own.

If you can devote a little bit of space for butterfly conservation, an ArcheWild ecologist can help you choose native plants that might work great for you.

According to NABA, Eurema nicippe (Sleepy Orange) is an uncommon butterfly in Pennsylvania and probably just migrates north every year.  But we’ll be on the lookout to see if this butterfly is taking up residence here at our farm.

Get involved with Butterfly monitoring and conservation by joining the North American Butterfly Association, or NABA.

We’ve registered the sighting on a nice new website here.

Sleepy Orange NABA sighting video.


Sleepy Orange NABA map.

ArcheWild - Eurema nicippe - Sleepy Orange

All plant images © 2012-2019 ArcheWild.