Orange Tip - Anthocharis cardamines

Scientific Name: Anthocharis cardamines. The genus name means 'flower grace'. The specific name 'cardamines' refers to one of the host plants, Ladys Smock Cardamine pratensis.

English Name: Orange Tip.

French Name: L'Aurore (='the dawn', or more precisely, presumably, in the sense of 'the rising sun').

5 Key Characters:
  • males have extensively orange tips to their forewings.
  • medium sized (forewings 19 - 24 mm long).
  • undersides of hindwings are marbled yellowy green in both sexes.
  • males spend their time patrolling linear territories such as hedges.
  • upperside of females white with black tips and a dot on each forewing (very like Small White Pieris rapae).
Lookalikes: Males are unmistakeable, with no lookalikes in this area. Females might be confused with Western Dappled White Euchloe crameri (a much rarer species, with less finely stippled looking marbling); Small White P. rapae (which does not have a marbled underside).

Habitat: Woodland edges, clearings and unimproved grassland. Usually avoids dry habitats.

Flight Period: February-March-April-May-June.

Caterpillar: Green, May - August, overwintering as a chrysalis on a stem.

Host Plant: Brassicas (Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata, Ladys Smock Cardamine pratensis, Hairy Rockcress Arabis hirsuta especially, but also Buckler Mustard Biscutella laevigata, Tower Mustard Arabis glabra, Common Whitlowgrass Erophila verna, Field Pennycress Thlaspi arvense, Hairy Bittercress Cardamine hirsuta).

Status: Very common, widespread and abundant. A grassland indicator species, in decline in Europe but stable within the EU. Grassland indicator species are those which are monitored to collect data which helps predict the health of natural grasslands.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

Photographs numbered from left to right, and top to bottom. 1 the remains of a mating pair that has been caught by a spider, showing the marbled undersides, April.

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