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/July, leaving these to pupate in dense vegetation

Adults emerge from April onwards to begin the search for partners

© Ken Wooldridge

© Gordon Chalk

© Gordon Chalk