Orange-tip butterflies on Honesty flowers

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Male Orange-tip butterfly ready to emerge from chrysalis
Male Orange-tip butterfly ready to emerge from chrysalis

No sightings of Orange-tip butterflies in the garden yet this year. However, its not going to be long judging by the development of two chrysalis brought inside from the cool garage where they’d been overwintering. The orange wing tips of a male are now clearly visible inside the beautifully formed chrysalis.

Last year unusually large numbers of Orange-tips were seen in the garden. Several females laid eggs on a single Honesty plant, Lunaria annua, which had self seeded in a small ‘wild’ set aside area.

This one healthy plant alone managed to sustain 12 caterpillars to pupation. Which given the Orange-tip caterpillars cannabilistic tendencies suggested the plentiful seed pods provided a rich enough food source to deter competition.

Those that laid on crucifers in the nearby vegetable bed faired less well, successfully hosting only single caterpillars per plant.

The maturing eggs of the Orange-tip butterfly turn orange and are easy to find once you get your eye in.