After four days of heavy rain, northerly gales and cold temperatures May day dawned bright and sunny, by mid-day warm enough to bring out seven species of butterfly to my garden including my spring favorite, the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
These are small / medium sized butterflies with a wing span of 40-52mm 1 3/4 – 2 inches. They are widespread throughout the UK and can be found in gardens, woods, roadside verges and river banks etc. It is only the male that has the orange colouration, it acts as a warning to birds that they are not good to eat! The caterpillars eat garlic mustard and cuckooflower so their bodies contain large amounts of bitter mustard oil. The under wing of both sexes is beautifully camouflaged.
Male Orange Tips are always on the move, wandering great distances looking for a mate, they rarely stop so it’s a treat when they do and you can photograph them. The English common name, although descriptive, is rather boring. It was once known as the ‘Lady of the Woods’. In Germany it is called Aurorafalter or Sunrise Butterfly and in France L’Aurore the Rising Sun, really nice names befitting this little gem!