Aberrant male, lacking black markings, Switzerland, July 2013
Newly laid egg - greenish white - Suffolk, UK, April 2020
The eggs turn orange after a while
Suffolk, UK, April 2020
Newly hatched larva, Suffolk, UK, May 2019
First instar larva, Suffolk, UK, May 2019
Older 1st instar larva, Suffolk, UK, May 2019
2nd instar larva, Suffolk, UK, May 2019
4th instar larva, Suffolk, UK, May 2020
5th instar larva, Suffolk, UK, May 2020
5th instar larva, Suffolk, UK, June 2020
Larva fully silked-up, prior to pupation, Suffolk, UK, June 2020
Larva on morning of pupation, Suffolk, UK, June 2020
Halfway through shedding the larval skin, Suffolk, UK, June 2020
Larval skin shed, Suffolk, UK, June 2020
Freshly formed pupa, Suffolk, UK, June 2020
The same pupa, some days later
The orange tip is the spring butterfly par excellence.
As the hedgerows burst into flower, so these delicate and beautiful
insects begin to flit along them, occasionally resting on garlic
mustard or other plants to feed briefly before moving on. At low
altitudes, the last individuals may be seen in June but in the
mountains, where they emerge a little later, fresh males are still
flying in July.
The males are unmistakeable, even at a
distance, with their brilliant orange tips. All other male orange tips
of the genus Anthocharis have
at least some bright or dullish yellow on the wings.In the far south of
Spain the desert orange tip, Colotis
evagore, flies. This lacks the green marbling beneath. Also in
Spain the very local sooty orange tip, Zegris meridionalis may be found.
This is generally much duller, with a more subdued, marbled green on
yellow underside.Female orange
superficially like other whites, are also easily distinguished if the
distinctive mottled underside is seen. The upperside pattern is
different, too, for ready identification given a good view.
Orange tips lay their eggs principally on garlic mustard or cuckoo
flower, though other crucifers may be used too. The caterpillars feed
in the flower and then seed heads, before pupating on stems, where they
uncannily resemble thorns. They hibernate as pupae, ready to emerge
fresh and joyous in the spring.