Anthocharis cardamines (Linnaeus, 1758)



A medium sized white butterfly with black tips to the forewing upperside, and a marbled green hindwing underside. The forewing is very rounded. The males are very distinctive, even in flight, with the large orange-tips to their forewings, and they don’t have the yellowish cast of A. damone. The females could be confused with butterflies in the genera Euchole and Pontia, which also have a marbled green hindwing underside. However, they both don’t have a solid black to the forewing.

Habitat Requirements

This species is one very frequently encountered on the edges of various habitats: the boundaries of meadows; the sides of the roads, banks, hedges, ditches and the edges of woodlands. This is in part because this is where its host plants most commonly grow. For example, the purple flowers of Honesty Lunaria annua help flag up this particular host plant in such locations. This preoccupation with linear habitats in the landscape makes it easy for the male butterflies to patrol, backwards and forwards. Thus, ensuring that it has the opportunity to dominate any female entering its territory. This species also shows a preference for relatively damp habitats.

Larval Foodplants

Arabis Arabis turrita (flowers pale yellow), Buckler Mustard Biscutella didyma (yellow flowers), Bittercress Cardamine graeca, Hesperis laciniata, Annual Honesty Lunaria annua, Hedge Mustard Sisymbrium officinale.


This species has one brood in the spring. Males are territorial and attempt courtship with any females passing through their territory. Females are selective about where they lay their eggs, which are pale creamy green in colour when first laid and as they mature become bright orange. This colour difference allows females to avoid laying their ova on a plant where eggs already have a head start. This is important because larger larvae are cannibalistic and would invariably eat the smaller larvae which hatch from the ova laid by the later females. The mustard oils in many of their host plants make the larvae of this species unpalatable and this is probably true of many other species in the Pieridae family.

*The information provided in the tables below is based on verified sightings of the Orange-tip submitted via this website since 1st January 2021.

First and Last Sightings

Year First Last/latest # Days
2023 20/03/2023 06/06/2023 78 days
2022 22/03/2022 20/05/2022 59 days
2021 21/02/2021 19/05/2021 87 days

Number of Observations

Year Number of observations
2023 289
2022 227
2021 65
Grand Total 581

Distribution Map

Distribution maps for this species are currently unavailable.

Flight Times for the Orange-tip (2023)

The chart below shows flight data by month for 2023

Flight Times for the Orange-tip (All Data)

The chart below shows flight data by month since 1st January 2021


  • Vernacular/Common Name: Orange-tip
  • Family: Pieridae (Swainson, 1820)
  • Sub-family: Pierinae (Swainson, 1820)
  • Tribe: Anthocharini (Tutt, 1894)
  • Genus: Anthocharis (Boisduval, Rambur & Graslin, 1833)
  • Species: cardamines (Linnaeus, 1758)


For a list of references, please see our bibliography page.