Sunday, 19 April 2015

Day 167 - Ornamental Orange-Tips

Hey everyone, as I mentioned yesterday I had the chance to pop to the lovely Fairburn Ings yesterday. I was really pleased to get some reasonable Kestrel shots which I put in yesterdays post. I was also pleased to get a couple of shots of this little guy as it was flitting around quiet a bit and most of the shots were a bit of a blur.

Orange Tip ( Anthocharis cardamines  )
Now its a lovely butterfly but it's also the first one I have seen this year. If you saw Easterwatch you'll know that this is one of the species that they are asking people to record in the Big Spring Watch.  This was the only species that they asked us to watch out for that I hadn't seen so far so it was good to find it.

So, as usual I did a bit of research and here's a bit of what I found:

  • They are found across much of the UK except the far north of Scotland. 
  • Most often you will find them in damp grassy areas especially hedgerows, road verges and gardens.
  • If you have Lady's Smock, Garlic or hedge mustard in a damp place they will love this as it is what the larvae mainly feed on.
  • When a female is laying eggs she will only lay one on each plant, and will check or sense if there are any other Orange Tip eggs on the plant. This is because each plant can only manage to feed one orange tip larvae as they only eat the developing seed pod.
    I like this shot as you can see the orange tip on top
    and also a little bit of the green speckles underneath
  • If an emerging Orange Tip larvae finds other Orange Tip eggs it will eat them - yes they are cannibals! :-#
  • The butterfly in the pictures is a male as it has orange wing tips, the females have a black wing tip. Both have speckly green underwings. This helps with camouflage when they are resting  
  • Unlike the Brimstone I covered a couple of days ago they do not overwinter as adults but instead emerge in the spring and are one of the earliest butterflies.
  • They have a small wingspan of around 45mm.
  • The orange tips are a warning sign telling any potential predators that these butterflies won't taste nice. The food they eat as larvae builds up oils in them which make them taste unpleasant.
  • The females are more secretive and are found mainly around the larvae food plants laying eggs. As they tend to be more hidden away this might explain why they don't have the orange colour on their wings.
  • The pupae form in June or July but do not hatch until the following spring, though if conditions are really good they might hatch in July and have a second brood.
Here's a couple of links to other sites with more information, the UK Butterflies site has loads of photos of the different stages of their life:

Hope you enjoyed.


1 comment:

  1. Not seen any myself yet, where I was running yesterday was a good spot for them too