Orange Tip Butterfly


Male Orange Tip Butterfly.  (8 April 2020)

We spotted this little beauty this morning – hanging around H’s plot near the damask, supping on the nectar in vinca flowers.

White wings with yellow tips – darker at the ends and points marked with lighter dots.  Blackish grey body, and white antennae.  Very pretty!

The big guy took a photo so we could do some identification back at home – and even though it’s a little blurry you can see the distinctive markings.

It took a little trawling as this one doesn’t tend to make the top 10 list for UK butterflies (whereas comma butterflies and peacock butterflies do feature in such lists).  Nevertheless, I finally found a great web resource that lists all known UK butterflies (called – surprise surprise: UK Butterflies), and after a little more scanning through photo bank pages found him!

He’s an Orange Tip Butterfly.  (Anthocharis cardamines – first defined in Linneaus 1758, in the Pieridae family.) And in case you’re wondering, the females tend to be more white and not as distinctively coloured as the males, so it’s definitely a ‘he’.

Some facts about this little fella..

  • Orange Tip butterflies emerge and start to fly in April, May and June.
  • They are common throughout England, Scotland and Ireland and are in fact one of the few species of butterfly not to be in decline – with increased numbers spotted in recent years.
  • They thrive in a range of habitats from wet meadows, woodland margins, hedgerows and gardens.
  • There is a single brood each year, with adults flying from the beginning of April, through May and into June. In exceptionally early years a small second brood may appear.
  • Sex differences are the stuff of stereotypes: “The male is also the more-active of the two sexes as it searches out a mate and can be seen flying for long periods without ever stopping to rest or nectar.  The female, on the other hand, is usually more concerned with egg-laying and, as a consequence, is often found in the vicinity of foodplants.  Her more-secretive behaviour may also explain why she does not exhibit the warning colouration present in the male.”  (UK Butterflies, Orange Tip Butterfly Imago (adult).
  • “Both sexes have an amazing underside pattern of green blotches formed by a combination of yellow and black scales.  When at rest on a flower head of the foodplant this butterfly so well camouflaged that an adult resting just a few feet away can easily be missed, even by an experienced observer.” (UK Butterflies)
  • The female lays a single egg on each suitable plant.  (Suitable means edible by her emergent offspring).  They only lay a single egg as the larvae are cannibalistic.


Food plants…

Adult Orange Tip butterfly feed primarily on


The ghoul list today…  According to CNN, there have been 83,471 deaths worldwide – with 1.4+ million total coronavirus cases (cumulative).  The world is in a tailspin, but Wuhan China is finally opening up.

PM Boris Johnson remains in intensive care; he was admitted to hospital Sunday evening and moved Monday night to intensive care.  The UK recorded the highest daily number of coronavirus deaths at 938, with 7,100+ dead overall.  In France it’s over 10,000.  Spain bucked it’s anticipated flattening and has reported increased death numbers for the second day in a row.  The EU can’t agree about how to fund the lockdown – so a ‘unified approach’ is being sorely tested.  Funnily enough there wasn’t so much discord when it came to bailing out the banks and protecting the super-rich.  Hhhmmn…

Numbers rise in Africa – from top to bottom of the continent.  For the first time today in the media, an open indication of falling confidence in the US President – en fin!  Deaths in USA are up to just under 13,000 (12,911).  NY deaths surpass 4,000. Meanwhile the idiot big chief in charge is turning to play a blame-game with the W.H.O. as cover for his own fumbling, and cutting American funding.  Not great news, but pretty transparent.  (The WHO called the pandemic 11 March, but response in the States was very slow in coming).

Let’s hope the world changes a little when we get through this.  Yes, we must all light candles and have hopes, but we all must also do and say things to promote more equality when we see the end of this crisis.  It is not communism!  It’s about survival, and there’s just no two ways about it.  For us humans, to survive and thrive we need to do that collectively – as a society.  Not everyone can fix the cavities in your teeth. Not everyone knows how to cook cordon bleu, or how to design a satellite or new technologies, or fix your plumbing for that matter or lay tarmac on new highways. Society needs all sorts of people.  So let’s get real: it’s Sesame Street on a whole other level.  It’s time we got honest about it.  And if someone tells you it’s socialism, tell them to grow up! Because yes, here we are: reckoning time, and all of a sudden the shelf-stacker at Tesco’s, the midnight shift bus driver and the bin-man are “key workers” – key workers on the line and dying daily from coronavirus.  Key workers without whom society grinds to a terrifying stop.  Unthinkable.  And so it is, from lowest of the low, on terrible wages and zero-hours contracts, to the most “essential”. Yeah.  What a turn-around.  Let us not forget.

About smallPaws

A tumbleweed from Canada who's been living in London for twenty or so years.
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