Orange Tip Pieridae

Anthocharis cardamines (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 37-49mm. Both sexes have extensive green mottling on the underside of the hindwing. This can often be seen from the upperside. The male has a large orange blotch on the apex of the forewing on both the upper and underside.

Similar Species: The only confusion is likely between the female Orange Tip and the similarly sized and patterned Green-veined and Small White. These lack the extensive green mottling on the underside of hindwing.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside male underside female upperside female underside

Flight Period: Single-brooded flying between mid-April and the end of June, exceptionally from late March to the end of July.

Status: Found throughout N. Ireland except for upland areas. Present on Rathlin I.

Ecology: A non-colonial species existing in loose, open populations in damp grassland, gardens, woodland margins and along hedgerows. Adult males are wide-ranging in suitable habitat whilst females are more sedentary, remaining in the vicinity of foodplants. The eggs are laid singly on the foodplant, positioned just on the base of the flowerhead or on the stem below it. These turn bright orange and are easily seen. The commonest foodplants are Cuckoo-flower Cardamine pratensis in damp habitats and Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata in drier situations. Other related plants may also be used. The pupa overwinters.

World Distribution: Europe, apart from extreme south and north, and across Asia to China.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1553 Agassiz number: 58.003

Additional information:

UK Butterflies account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland