Species of the Month - May 2015

Orange Tip

Anthocharis cardamines

Anthocharis cardamines

The Orange Tip butterfly is a familiar sight from mid-April to mid-June, being most numerous in May.  The males are unmistakable with their orange-tipped wings.

Anthocharis cardamines, female

The females do not have the orange wing-tips and can easily be confused with species such as the Green-veined White and Small White, but the female Orange Tip has a more rounded wing-tip than those species, and the markings on the underside are quite different.  Normally when a female Orange Tip is seen there are males present as well.

Anthocharis cardamines

The underwing pattern of an Orange Tip.  This is a male, but the female underwing is similar.  The Green-veined White does not have blotches like this but has dark greenish-black lines along the veins, while the Small White and Large White have a uniformly pale underwing.

Anthocharis cardamines

The usual foodplant of the Orange Tip in our area is Cuckoo Flower or Lady's Smock (Cardamine pratensis).  Females lay their eggs on this plant and males visit the plant looking for females.  Both sexes also drink nectar from the flowers.  Eggs are sometimes laid on other plants of the cabbage family.

Anthocharis cardamines, egg

The eggs are laid singly among the flower-buds.  They start out pale green but soon turn orange.  The larva is green with sticky hairs.  The one on the right photographed by Judith Witts is on Night-scented Stock, a garden plant of the cabbage family.

  Anthocharis cardamines


 Anthocharis cardamines

Female on Cuckoo Flowers with attendant male

Anthocharis cardamines


Please send in your Orange Tip sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your butterfly, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number seen  
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g habitat, behaviour,
flowers visited


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager


Note you can still send in records for past species of the month.  Here is the list of species we've had so far:

Apr 2015 - Marsh Violet
Mar 2015 - Hebrew Character
Feb 2015 - Tree Lungwort
Jan 2015 - Flute Lichen
Dec 2014 - Giant Willow Aphid
Nov 2014 - Golden Spindles
Oct 2014 - Crimson Waxcap
Sep 2014 - Four-spotted Orb Weaver

Aug 2014 - Pale Butterwort
Jul 2014 - Melancholy Thistle
Jun 2014 - Forester Moth
May 2014 - Large Red Damselfly

Apr 2014 - Hedgehog
Mar 2014 - Hairy Bittercress
Feb 2014 - Pale Brindled Beauty
Jan 2014 - Velvet Shank
Dec 2013 - Frilly-fruited Jelly Lichen
Nov 2013 - Whooper Swan
Oct 2013 - Ballerina Waxcap
Sep 2013 - Parrot Waxcap
Aug 2013 - Vapourer Moth

Jul 2013 - Emerald Damselfly
Jun 2013 - Globe Flower
May 2013 - Early Purple Orchid
Apr 2013 - Peacock Butterfly
Mar 2013 - Oak Beauty
Feb 2013 - Coral Lungwort

Jan 2013 - Willow Jelly Button & Birch Jelly Button
Dec 2012 - Dice Lichen
Nov 2012 - Feathered Thorn
Oct 2012 - Dryad's Saddle
Sep 2012 - Tawny Grisette
Aug 2012 - Forest Bug
Jul 2012 - Grayling
Jun 2012 - Greater and Lesser Butterfly Orchids
May 2012 - Small Copper
Apr 2012 - Green Tiger Beetle
Mar 2012 - March Moth
Feb 2012 - Barren Strawberry
Jan 2012 - Brambling
Dec 2011 - Red Squirrel
Nov 2011 - Hazel Gloves
Oct 2011 - Small Tortoiseshell
Sep 2011 - Fly Agaric
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus
Jul 2011 - Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Jun 2011 - 7-spot Ladybird
May 2011 - Green Hairstreak
Apr 2011 - Townhall Clock

Mar 2011 - Frogspawn

Next month's page
Current month's page

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  The larval photo is Judith Witts.