Orange Tip Butterfly – Anthocharis cardamines

Sunday 18th April 2021
This week saw our first sighting of an Orange Tip butterfly fluttering along the side of the river. They are one of my favourite butterflies as it indicates the warmer, longer days are here and summer is not far off. Our damp boggy fields are an ideal habitat and support a large colony.

They fly from late March to June depending on weather conditions. This butterfly lives in damp meadows, ditches, woodlands and hedgerows as this is where the caterpillars food plants grow, cuckoo-flower, garlic mustard and many other plants in the mustard family. 

Male

Orange Tips are a very common butterfly, the male has the distinctive orange tipped wings which the females lack so they are not so easily recognised and can be mistaken for Small Whites.

Female

The under wings of both sexes have dappled dark green patterns with black scaling this gives excellent camouflage when the butterfly is at rest.

Under Wings

The females lay single barrel-shaped, grooved eggs on the underside of leaves and flowers of the food plant.

Newly laid egg

The eggs take around 14 days to hatch and change from yellow/white when first laid to orange and then grey just before they hatch. The caterpillars are blue-green with small black dots and broad white stripe. It takes about 5 weeks for them to become fully grown when they change into a narrow, curved, green or brownish chrysalis attached by a girdle to a plant stem. Here it hibernates over winter emerging as an adult the following spring.

2 thoughts on “Orange Tip Butterfly – Anthocharis cardamines

  1. So interesting Ann, thanks for sharing. We saw our first orange tip recently (on one of our Cheshire strolls) and also, a gorgeous peacock butterfly in our garden. It was ‘sunbathing’ and feeding, on a large dandelion. I rushed to get my phone, to take a photo but when I came back it was gone!!

  2. Very interesting. Thanks so much for the info. I have forgotten the names of most butterflies so I’ll hopefully remember this one now!

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