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Photo by John Bridges shows a male Orange-tip butterfly from above.The orange tips of its wings that give its name stand out.

Orange-Tip Butterfly

Anthocharis cardamines

Key Facts

  • Wingspan: 4.0-5.2cm

A sure sign of spring arriving is seeing the dancing flight of an Orange-tip butterfly in a woodland or garden. A small but common butterfly, adults fly in the spring, between April and July.

The Orange-tip 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 the forewing is a bold orange, with light grey wingtips. The female does not sport the vivid orange colour and looks like a small version of the whites – she can be distinguished by the mottled, ‘mossy grey’ pattern on the underside of her hindwings.

Where to Find

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

How people can help

Butterflies such as the Orange-tip will happily visit your garden and are a joy to watch. To attract butterflies 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.

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.

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