Orange-tip Butterfly

©Bob Coyle

Orange-tip Butterfly

©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Orange-tip

Scientific name: Anthocharis cardamines
A sure sign of spring arriving is seeing the dancing flight of an Orange-tip in a woodland or garden. This distinctive butterfly is on the wing from April to July.

Species information

Statistics

Wingspan: 4.0-5.2cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to July

About

The Orange-tip is a common, small butterfly that flies in the spring, between April and July. It is found in a wide variety of habitats, including hedgerows, woodland rides and meadows, as well as farmland, gardens and parks. The foodplants of the caterpillars are Garlic Mustard, Cuckooflower and Hedge Mustard.

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.

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, emerging as butterflies the following spring.

How people can help

To attract butterflies, such as the orange-tip, into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing Ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird and animal food, feeders and homes, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.