Home / Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae) / Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines)

Orange-tip warehouse1.indicia.org.uk

The Orange-tip Butterfly is a family of medium size butterflies that are quite common, and are widespread throughout their range. This butterfly family consists of about 1100 species of butterfly. These arthropods have a high preference for urban locales, and are often seen hovering through human-made gardens, as well as hedgerows.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Anthocharis
  • Scientific Name: Anthocharis cardamines

Description and Identification


Orange Tip Butterfly Caterpillar butterfly-conservation.org

When the larvae hatch out, they consume their own eggshells, after which they feast upon their host plant leaves and the seed pods. After their five larval instars, the fully grown larva their host, and begins pupating lower vegetation close to the ground level.


Orange Tip Butterfly Pupa wildlifeinsight.com

The pupa of the species can be easily found since most of the chrysalis develop on one single plant. However, their strong resemblance to the host plant’s foliage makes it quite difficult for the predators to locate them.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Highly different

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the males of the orange-tips display all four wings with a white base having bright orange tips in their primary wings, and a single black spot on each, while the females look completely different since they lack these bright orange markings, and have thinner light gray marks instead. When the wings are closed, both the sexes display a striking pattern of green mottled blotches formed by scales in black and yellow.

Orange-tip Butterflies obantimes.co.uk

Orange Tip Butterfly ukbutterflies.co.uk

Average wingspan: 45-50mm

Flight pattern: Fast, erratic


Orange Tip Butterfly Eggs cdn2.discoverwildlife.com

The eggs are laid singly. They have a white pigment that eventually changes to yellowish to orange, and finally, brown within a few days.

Quick Facts

Distribution Throughout Europe and temperate regions of Asia to China
Habitat Bright, sunlit but marshy meadows, woodlands,  forest edges, hedgerows and the banks of streams and rivers, but readily visit gardens
Lifespan of adults Up to 4 weeks
Host plants Primary food plants are Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know?

  • When more than one eggs hatch on the same host plant, the larva that hatches out first cannibalizes its sibling, which is why the females avoid laying eggs on the same plant leaves.
  • During mating, the female uses its abdomen to signal different meanings to an approaching male.
  • While laying its egg, the mother butterfly deposits a pheromone in order to ward off other females from laying eggs on the same site.
  • The bright orange tips are a way of adaptation, signaling predators that they are highly distasteful.

Anthocharis cardamines learnaboutbutterflies.com

Female Orange Tip Butterfly butterfly-conservation.org

Male Orange-tip Butterfly shropshiresgreatoutdoors.co.uk

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Anthocharis
  • Scientific Name: Anthocharis cardamines
Published by Poppy Glendening on October 5, 2018.
Last Updated: October 15, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team