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Orange Tip

Anthocharis cardamines

  • Written also: Orange-tip
  • Family: Whites and Yellows – Pieridae
  • Subfamily: Whites – Pierinae
  • Wing span: (Small–)Medium-sized, 31–50 mm (1.24–1.97 in.).
  • Wing upper side: White, forewing with black tip and black central blotch. Males’ forewing orange from tip to middle. Hind wing with faint grey embroidery.
  • Wing underside: Forewing underside like upper surface, but wing tip more green than black. Hind wing with irregular greenish yellow and grey embroidery.
  • Habitat: Forest edges, damp and dry fields and meadows.
  • Flying time: Early May–late June, in Lapland till mid-July.
  • Overwintering form: Cocoon.
  • Larval foodplant: Cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis), tower mustard (Arabis glabra), shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) and other members of the Mustard family (Brassicaceae).

The Whites and Yellows (Pieridae) is divided into three subfamilies in Finland, the largest of which is the subfamily Whites (Pierinae), to which orange tip belongs. The two other subfamilies are the Sulphurs (Coliadinae) and the Mimic sulphurs (Dimorphiinae).

Male orange tips are easy to recognise by the orange outer half of their forewings. Females can be recognized by the central black blotch on their forewings and their greenish white embroidery. They look most like the bath white, but orange tips have a smaller central blotch and the black tips of their forewings are not checkered.

Orange tip can be found across the whole of Finland, although it is rarer in the north. Males begin to fly a little before females, and take flight to look for them. Females lay their eggs one by one on the unborn caterpillar’s food supply.

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