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East Midlands Branch Butterfly Conservation

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni


The Brimstone is widely distributed and is usually found in scrubby woodland and hedgerows. It is highly nomadic, often seen far from its breeding grounds and in urban habitats.


The male Brimstone is sulphur yellow and the female is pale lemon or greenish-yellow, which can cause it to be confused with the Large White at a distance, but the Brimstone has no black on its wings.

Flight times

It is a long-lived, single-brooded butterfly which first appears after hibernation in March or earlier. It continues to fly until late June/early July, with the second generation appearing in late July, until it enters hibernation during the autumn/winter.

Food plants

Larval food plants are Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn. Thistles, buddleia and knapweed are favourite nectar sources in summer.

Brimstone - © Simon Jenkins cut out picture of brimstone butterfly

Distribution Maps for the East Midlands Region

Brimstone distribution map 2010
2010 Summary
No of tetrads 217
First sighting 01/03/2010
Last sighting 21/10/2010
Brimstone distribution map 2011
2011 Summary
No of tetrads 252
First sighting 19/01/2011
Last sighting 14/10/2011
Brimstone distribution map 2012
2012 Summary
No of tetrads 195
First sighting 20/02/2012
Last sighting 22/11/2012
Brimstone distribution map 2013
2013 Summary
No of tetrads 340
First sighting 14/02/2013
Last sighting 09/12/2013
Brimstone distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 564
First sighting 01/03/2015
Last sighting 19/12/2015
Brimstone distribution map 2014
2014 Summary
No of tetrads 478
First sighting 07/01/2014
Last sighting 29/11/2014
Brimstone distribution map 2005-09

Combined records for the five year period 2005-09

Brimstone distribution map 2010-14

Combined records for the five year period 2010-14


Photo Gallery


Brimstone © Christine Maughan


Brimstone © Simon Jenkins


Brimstone © Simon Jenkins


Brimstone © Simon Jenkins

Brimstone Brimstone Brimstone Brimstone caterpillar
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Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

Clouded Yellow Colias croceus

The pale "Helice" form of the Clouded Yellow could be confused with a Brimstone. All forms of Clouded Yellow and Brimstone rest with their wings closed, hiding the bold black margins. The key differences being the shape of the rear edge of the wings and the shade of yellow, Brimstone having a slightly greenish tint, particularly the females.

The rich golden yellow of the Clouded Yellow and bold black margins on the upper sides make it unlike any other British butterfly.

Clouded Yellow
Clouded Yellow - © Simon Jenkins
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