Orange Tip

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This butterfly has white uppersides to its wings and it's only the males that have orange-tipped forewings; females have small black tips. The orange tips warn predators that this butterfly is highly distasteful.

Orange-tips are common throughout lowland England and Wales. Females lay single, pale, spindle-shaped eggs on the underside of flower buds. These eggs turn deep orange after a few days.

The caterpillars hatch and feed on the developing seed pod. They are green and extremely hard to spot. Orange-tip caterpillars are cannibalistic, liable to eat another of their own species should they meet. Each caterpillar leaves its foodplant to overwinter as a chrysalis, probably in bushes and tall vegetation. Adults emerge in April.

Adults drink nectar from flowers. Caterpillars eat garlic mustard and lady's smock, sometimes also sweet rocket and honesty in gardens. It is seen between April and June and its caterpillars from May to July. They fly along hedges and across the garden. Caterpillars are found in meadows, hedgerows, woodland edges.

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