Orange tip Anthocharis cardamines

Best time to see: mid Apr to early Jul

Key facts

Unmistakable white butterfly with bright orange wingtips (although no orange on females)

Habitat: where the caterpillar's food plant is abundant – crucifers such as lady's smock or garlic mustard

Common throughout England, Wales and Ireland


Male's orange wing tips are distinctive; both sexes have a mottled pattern under the hindwing, looking rather like lichen

A mobile butterfly, males often seen flitting slowly between white objects looking for females

Female can be confused with Small or Green-veined White, but neither has a central black spot on the forewing nor the mottled u/s


White eggs, turning bright orange, laid singly on tall crucifers in late May and June

Dark green caterpillars lie along the seedpods of food plants in June and July, leaving these to pupate in dense vegetation

Adults emerge from April onwards to begin the search for partners

  • Main photo
  • female u/s
  • male open

Photo © Ken Wooldridge

Photo © Gordon Chalk

Photo © Gordon Chalk