Orange-tip Butterfly

Orange-tip ©Bob Coyle

Orange-tip Butterfly

©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Orange-tip

Scientific name: Anthocharis cardamines
It’s easy to see where these butterflies get their name – the males have bright orange tips on their wings! See them from early spring through to summer in meadows, woodland and hedges.

Species information

Statistics

Wingspan: 4.0-5.2cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to July

About

These pretty little butterflies are easy to spot as the males’ wings have bright orange tips – giving them their name! They are a common sight during spring and can be found in lots of places including meadows, woodland and hedges. The adults lay their eggs on special plants to ensure that their caterpillars have the right food to eat. Orange-tip caterpillars love garlic mustard, cuckooflower and hedge mustard plants.

How to identify

The male orange-tip is unmistakeable: a white butterfly, half of its forewing is a bold orange, and it has light grey wingtips. The female is also white, but has grey-black wingtips, similar to the white butterflies. Both sexes show a mottled, 'mossy grey' pattern on the underside of their hindwings when at rest.

In our area

Orange-tip butterflies are common across Shropshire but are dependable on flower rich areas. 

Distribution

Found across the UK, although scarcer in the north of Scotland.

Did you know?

Orange-tip caterpillars are cannibals, eating their own eggshell when they emerge and moving on to eat other orange-tip eggs nearby. Caterpillars pupate in July and overwinter as a pupa, emerging as butterflies the following spring.

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Janet Packham Photography