Orange-tip butterflies at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve

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This male Orange-tip butterfly was showing its beautiful underwing as it sat on Ragged-robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) at Windmill Farm Nature Reserve on The Lizard in Cornwall. There were a good number of both sexes when we last visited on 4 May.

Insight into Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines): one of the earliest butterflies of the year to emerge that doesn’t over-winter as an adult, it flies form April to June.

The female doesn’t have the orange tips to her wings and is easily confused with similar small white butterflies such as Green-veined White (Pieris napi) and Small White (Pieris rapae).

She is often pre-occupied with laying eggs on larval food plants such as Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata). You can easily spot an egg as, though they’re small, they’re bright orange. Eggs are laid singly on each foodplant as the caterpillars are cannibalistic!

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