Sunday, 22 April 2018

I saw Orange Tip butterflies in the spring sunshine this morning

One of the many delights of spring up the Welcombe Hills, is the annual emergence of the beautiful Orange Tip butterfly. As one of our earliest butterflies (the Brimstone usually beats it by a week or so) look for it at the margins of woods and hedgerows. The distinctive male is white and has the orange-tipped wings; the female, is white with black wing tips. After mating, she will lay her eggs on Hedge Garlic or the preferred Lady's Smock. There the caterpillar will hatch from the egg, eat it and any other eggs and feed on the plant. When ready to pupate it wanders off to find something more substantial to hang on to where it remains until the following spring.

The Welcome Hills has plenty of Lady's Smock. It prefers damp areas.

This morning I saw 3-4 males and 2 females. Chasing these butterflies in the hope of seeing them alight is good fun but seldom productive. My technique is simple: find a Lady's Smock in the sunshine, then wait for the butterfly to come to you. They don't rest long though so you have to be ready and quick. 

Here are today's pics. I didn't get a pic of the female though. Maybe next time.

Below are pictures of one of the Orange Tip's eggs from a few years ago.

 The final pic (below) is the underside of the Orange Tip - both male and female have this mottled green marking.