Orange-tip Butterfly

Orange-tip ©Bob Coyle

Orange-tip Butterfly

©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION


Scientific name: Anthocharis cardamines
It’s easy to see where these butterflies get their name – the males have bright orange tips on their wings! See them from springtime through to summer in meadows, woodland and hedges.

Species information


Wingspan: 4.0-5.2cm

Conservation status


When to see

April to July


These pretty little butterflies are easy to spot as the males’ wings have bright orange tips – giving them their name! They are a common sight during spring and can be found in lots of places including meadows, woodland and hedges. The adults lay their eggs on special plants to ensure that their caterpillars have the right food to eat. Orange-tip caterpillars love garlic mustard, cuckooflower and hedge mustard plants!

How to identify

The male orange-tip is unmistakeable: a white butterfly, half of its forewing is a bold orange, and it has light grey wingtips. The female is also white, but has grey-black wingtips, similar to the white butterflies. Both sexes show a mottled, 'mossy grey' pattern on the underside of their hindwings when at rest.


Found across the UK, although scarcer in the north of Scotland.

Did you know?

Orange-tip caterpillars are cannibals, eating their own eggshell when they emerge and moving on to eat other orange-tip eggs nearby. Caterpillars pupate in July and overwinter, emerging as butterflies the following spring.

How people can help

To attract butterflies, such as the orange-tip, into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing Ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird and animal food, feeders and homes, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.