N A T U R K U N D L I C H E S   I N F O R M A T I O N S S Y S T E M

Colias hyale (Linné, 1758)

(zoological nomenclature: valid name, available)

General information:

Papilio (Danaus) hyale Linnaeus, 1758: 469.
Type locality: Europe, [northern] Africa
Type: Lectotype : "71 hyale"; "hyale 764"; "Lectotype": in coll. The Linnean collections at the Linnean Society of London (pictures)


C. hylae hyale : Lithuania C. hyale hyale : Lithuania    
Picture from: www.ebay.at: © galijotas
Detailed view
Picture from: www.ebay.at: © galijotas
Detailed view


The species is distributed from the French Pyrenees through central Europe, the Ural mountains and Siberia to the Russian Far East. It is absent from the northern parts of Europe and Siberia, as well as the Mediterranean region and the Middle East including Turkey. The typical subspecies reaches from Europe to central Asia, where populations from Kirghizia have been named grieshuberi Korb, 2004 (now regarded to be a synonym of the typical subspecies). From the Altai mountains eastwards, throughout Mongolia and NE China, the species is represented by ssp. palidis Fruhstorfer, 1910 (Grieshuber 2014).

The vertical distribution in Europe is documented from sea-level to about 2100 m a.s.l., a height which is also confirmed for central Asian populations (1800 to 2200 m in the northern Tian-Shan following Kurz & Kurz 2019).


The status of Colias alta Staudinger, 1886) is discussed controversely (see Grieshuber et al. 2012, Grieshuber 2014). Presently it is assumed to be an allopatric sister species of C. hyale, distributed in southern Kirghizia and northern Tajikistan in higher altitudes, but also reaching the inner Tian-Shan and therefore the range of C. hyale. It is stated, that C. alta occurs only in one generation per year and is larger than C. hyale. The caterpillar is said to feed on Astragalus and Trigonella species (Toropov & Zhdanko 2006). Otherwise it is indistinguishable from C. hyale, also in male genitalia. Also very closely related to C. hyale is Colias alfacariensis Ribbe, 1905, which is a mainly Mediterranea species, reaching the Caspian sea in the East and central Europe in the north. Diagnostic characters often overlap with with C. hyale and are given as follows (Grieshuber 2014): forewing apex more rounded; forewing margin convex; male upperside ground colour bright lemon-yellow instead of pale greenish-yellow in C. hyale; male forewing upperside: black basal suffusion less extended (especially in cell); black marginal markings on hindwing upperside usually reduced; discoidal spot on hindwing upperside brilliant range in contrast to pale orange in C. hyale. Male genitalia are also not diagnostic, but C. alfacariensis is well separated from C. hyale by the larva, which has four longitudinal yellow stripes with black dots in C. alfacariensis, but only two lateral yellow stripes and normally no black dots in C. hyale. All three taxa have in common a stiff spike on the valva in the male genitalia, which readily distinguishes them from superficially similar species of the Colias erate-group, which all lack this spike. The most similar of them is Colias poliographus Motschulsky, 1861 in the eastern Palearctic region, partly overlapping in distribution with C. hyale. Allopatric however are Colias marnoana Rogenhofer, 1884 from the highlands of eastern Africa and Colias nilagiriensis Felder & Felder, 1859 from southern India. Colias erate (Esper, [1805]) itself however, which widely overlaps in distribution with C. hyale is, at least in males, mostly readily distinguishable by its dark outer wing margin, which only seldom is interrupted by yellow spots.

Worth knowing:

Publication data:

Kurz Michael: 2016.12.22
Kurz Michael: 2019.06.28
Kurz Michael: 2019.07.03
not reviewed