Brimstone butterfly

Gonepteryx rhamni

Pieridae (Whites)

Image of Brimstone butterfly

The male Brimstone butterfly is yellow; the female is pale green. It's easily recognised by the unique shape of the wings.

This butterfly always rests with the wings together.

My personal observations of the Brimstone butterfly

months seen in my garden: mainly August but watch for them passing in March

garden plants that attract this species:

Bluebell, Buddleia, French Marigold, Hyssop, Pelargonium, Pot Marigold, Red Campion, Sweet William

Butterfly sightings 2005:

First Brimstone butterfly seen 18 March
First Brimstone photographed 26 March
Brimstone camoflaged by foliage in garden, 24 April
Brimstone, 26 June
Brimstone on Buddleia Nanho Blue, 2 August
Brimstone, 3 August
Brimstone, 15 August
Brimstone 20 September

Butterfly sightings 2004:

Brimstone butterfly on Lavender

The above photograph was taken on 21 August 2004. I was on a short break from hospital where I spent 4 months having chemotherapy. Consequently, this was the only Brimstone image taken in 2004. The plant is Hyssop.

top 5 memorable images of 2003:

There are 24 digital images of Brimstones in my 2003 catalogue.

thumbnail link Feeding on French Marigold 'Naughty Marietta'. August 4.

thumbnail link Feeding on Sedum spectabile. September 4.

thumbnail link Feeding on Pot Marigold. August 6.

thumbnail link Wing shape is one of the distinguishing features. On Buddleia. August 6.

thumbnail link Camoflage - same colour as the Sedum leaves. September 4.

A selection of sightings and images from previous years

4 May 2002 on Red Campion
21 April 2002 on Bluebell
27 July 2001 on Buddleia
16 September 2000 on Pelargonium
22 August 2000 on Marigold
22 August 2000 on Buddleia
22 August 2000 camoflaged under Dogwood leaf
7 August 1999 on Pelargonium
28 July 1999 on Sweet William


Brimstone butterflies hibernate over the Winter. Look out for them on the wing in March when they are searching for a mate. I find that they don't usually stop in my garden during the Spring but can be seen flying by.

The best chance of seeing Brimstone butterflies in my garden is in August. Usually I will find one on a Buddleia at some time in August.

Enjoyed watching a male Large White butterfy taking an interest in a female Brimstone butterfly on 4 September 2003. He chased her around the back garden until he finally gave up.

Reference Section

Size: 58mm (similar size to Large White - see list of butterflies by size)

First Generation flight period: July until June of the following year

Larval Food Plants: Buckthorns
Wild Nectar Plants: Bluebell, Red Campion, Wild Garlic

Family Group: Pieridae - see list of butterflies by family

This page last updated: 9 December, 2005