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East Midlands Branch Butterfly Conservation

Orange-tip Anthocharis cardamines


The Orange-tip is found in many habitats including hedgerows, along roadside verges, gardens, damp meadows and edges of woods.


Males are unmistakeable with the large orange tips to their forewings and can be easily identified, even in flight. Females, however, can be confused with Small and Green-veined Whites but the underwings of both male and female are very characteristic with their dappled green and white pattern.

Flight times

There is normally only one generation a year. Adults emerge in the third week of April, but can be earlier, and the flight period usually continues until mid-June.

Food plants

Eggs are laid singly on Cuckooflower, Garlic Mustard and other crucifers.

Female Orange-tip - © Simon Jenkins cut out picture of orange-tip butterfly

Distribution Maps for the East Midlands Region

Orange-tip distribution map 2010
2010 Summary
No of tetrads 256
First sighting 31/03/2010
Last sighting 18/07/2010
Orange-tip distribution map 2011
2011 Summary
No of tetrads 335
First sighting 17/03/2011
Last sighting 16/06/2011
Orange-tip distribution map 2012
2012 Summary
No of tetrads 284
First sighting 11/03/2012
Last sighting 04/07/2012
Orange-tip distribution map 2013
2013 Summary
No of tetrads 345
First sighting 18/04/2013
Last sighting 24/07/2013
Orange-tip distribution map 2014
2014 Summary
No of tetrads 430
First sighting 02/03/2014
Last sighting 10/08/2014
Orange-tip distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 542
First sighting 04/04/2015
Last sighting 29/09/2015
Orange-tip distribution map 2005-09

Combined records for the five year period 2005-09

Orange-tip distribution map 2010-14

Combined records for the five year period 2010-14


Photo Gallery


Orange-tip © Simon Jenkins


Orange-tip © Simon Jenkins


Orange-tip © Christine Maughan


Orange-tip © Christine Maughan

Orange-tip Orange-tip Orange-tip Orange-tip
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Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

The male Orange-tip is unmistakable with its bright orange wing tips and patrolling flight, along paths and woodland edges. the female, however, can be difficult to distinguish from either the Small White or Green-veined White whilst in flight. Whilst at rest the patterning on the rear underwing is distinctive and cryptic.

Green-veined White Pieris napi

Green-veined White are usually found in similar habitats but the underwing patterning is less intense and the upper wing tip lacks are paler and not as extensive.

small white butterfly
Green-veined White - female - © Christine Maughan

Small White Pieris rapae

Small White are usually smaller and have paler and less extensive wing-tips than the female Orange-tip. The underside of the rear wing is a plain yellow.

small white butterfly
Small White - female - © Christine Maughan
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