The Orange-tip (Arthocharis cardamines) is one of the first butterflies to appear in the spring. Here, in Manorhamilton (Ireland), they're on the wing from April until early June. The male, being territorial, can be seen incessantly fluttering about in search of female and warding off other males. I have even seen them chasing off members of other species, in particular, Small white (Pieris rapae) and Green-veined White (Pieris napi britannica), which, like the Orange tip, are members of the Pieridae family.
The bright orange wing tips, which gives the butterfly its name, probably serves as a display to attract females and as a deterrent to other males.
The female, in contrast, keeps a low profile. Her wing tips are black, instead of orange, and can only be seen flying when feeding or searching for plants to lay her eggs on.
|Male Orange-tip. The tips of the female are black. ©Sara Garcia Hipolito|
|When at rest, only the white and green under-wings are visible. ©Sara Garcia Hipolito|
Despite much searching, I still haven't been able to find any caterpillars, even when I have returned to look in plants where I had found eggs.
|Eggs at different stages of development. The orange egg is at a more advanced stage than the yellow ones and will eventually tun brown. ©Sara Garcia Hipolito|
|Above: Map of local sites where my observations were made. Below: From the chart, it can be seen that the Orange-tip is the 4th most abundant butterfly in the area. Map and Charts by the Irish National Biodiversity Data Centre, using data by Sara Garcia Hipolito.|
For more information on the Orange tip butterfly, please visit the Irish Biodiversity Data Centre's page on this species: