Orange Tip butterfly

Anthocharis cardamines

family - Pieridae (Whites)

Image of Orange Tip butterfly

The main colour of the top of the wings of the Orange Tip butterfly is white. The male has orange at the wing tip.

Both male and female can be identified by the mottled green pattern of the underside of the hindwing.

My personal observations of the Orange Tip butterfly

months seen in my garden: April and May

garden plants that attract this species: Aubrieta, Forget-me-not, Honesty

Butterfly sightings 2005:

Orange Tip on Forget-me-not, 1 May 2005
Orange Tip on Forget-me-not, 1 May 2005

Butterfly sightings 2004:

Orange Tip amongst the Daisies, 22 April 2004
Orange Tip sat on Forget-me-not, 22 April 2004


Orange Tip on Aubrieta, photographed in my Wiltshire garden in 1999.

Orange Tip on Honesty in my present garden in Cirencester, 19 May 2002.


Since this butterfly is only seen in the Spring, it requires spring-flowering plants to feed upon and many of these require extra effort from the gardener.

The few Orange Tip visitors to my garden have generally been males visiting Aubrieta.

On Sunday 4 May 2003, a female Orange Tip butterfly took a great interest in a weed that had sneaked under the back fence. I found that the weed was called Jack-by-the-Hedge or Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) - a larval foodplant of the Orange Tip butterfly. Later I discovered a caterpillar on this plant which I suspect was an Orange Tip.

Reference Section

Size: 46mm (slightly smaller than Small White - see list of butterflies by size)

First Generation flight period: April-June

Male is easily identifed by orange tips to forewings. Female does not have that orange but both sexes have a grey-green mottled underside of the hindwing which distinguish this butterfly from other Whites.

Larval Food Plants: Garlic Mustard, Hedge Mustard, Cuckoo flower, Charlock, Watercress & cruciferous plants

Family Group: Pieridae - see list of butterflies by family

This page last updated: 18 July, 2005