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 Common Knapweed are favourite nectar sources in summer.

Distribution Maps

Brimstone distribution map 2005-09
Brimstone distribution map 2010-14
Brimstone distribution map 2015-19
Brimstone distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 564
First sighting 01/03/2015
Last sighting 19/12/2015
Brimstone distribution map 2016
2016 Summary
No of tetrads 518
First sighting 26/01/2016
Last sighting 25/12/2016
Brimstone distribution map 2017
2017 Summary
No of tetrads 533
First sighting 22/01/2017
Last sighting 14/11/2017
Brimstone distribution map 2018
2018 Summary
No of tetrads 559
First sighting 20/01/2018
Last sighting 29/12/2018
Brimstone distribution map 2019
2019 Summary
No of tetrads 651
First sighting 06/01/2019
Last sighting 09/12/2019
Brimstone distribution map 2020
2020 Summary
No of tetrads 587
First sighting 03/01/2020
Last sighting 06/11/2020
Brimstone distribution map 2021
2021 Summary
No of tetrads 589
First sighting 21/01/2021
Last sighting 16/12/2021
Brimstone distribution map 2022
2022 Summary
No of tetrads 472
First sighting 17/02/2022
Last sighting 12/11/2022

Photo Gallery

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.

Image of Clouded Yellow
Clouded Yellow - © Simon Jenkins