Friday, 17 April 2015

A - Z Challenge 2015 - Butterflies 'O'

O - Orange Tip

There really is no mistaking this very aptly named butterfly if you are looking at the male.

Orange Tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines)
It's believed that the orange tips to its wings are a warning colouration derived from its liking for the garlic mustard plant and indicating that it is not palatable to predators.

The underside of its wings has a pattern of green blotches formed by a combination of yellow and black scales which provide the orange tip with excellent camouflage when its wings are closed.

Orange Tips mating showing the coloured underside
However when you see the female of the species you might think that it is just another white butterfly.

Female Orange Tip
Without the orange on the tips of its wings it is often mistaken for other white butterflies.

The caterpillars feed on the cuckooflower (as the female butterfly above), garlic mustard and charlock. The adult orange  tips sip nectar from bluebells, brambles, bugle, dandelion and ragged robin - all of which have flowers common in our area of Yorkshire.

I shall have to look out for the butterfly this summer. I can't say I've seen one before.

The BBC Springwatch programme is using the Orange Tip butterfly to map the progress of spring this year. People are asked to record and report the date on which they see the first one. 

There is an even more spectacular orange tip in Europe. The Southern Orange Tip (Anthocharis euphenoides) is yellow in fact.

Southern (Yellow) Orange Tip
This one was photographed in Spain. I could go there or to the Alps to catch sight of one.

Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
The multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

I feel it when you're with me
It happens when you kiss me
That rare and gentle feeling that I feel inside
Your touch is soft and gentle
Your kiss is warm and tender
Whenever I am with you I think of butterflies

Love is like a butterfly
The multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside

Photo attributions:
  • Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines): 15 April 2014 in Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire, Sharp Photography, by Charlesjsharp - CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Orange Tips mating: uploaded by Entomolo, 17 April 2011, by hamonjp - CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Southern (Yellow) Orange Tip: Male, near Higuera de Calatrava, Spain, 19 March 2008, by Joan Cales Hinojosa Galisteo - CC BY-SA 3.0


Bob Scotney said...

Check out what I just found,

Bill Nicholls said...

There you go Wytham woods is just up the road from me though some how I doubt I would see one knowing my luck. Good choice for today.

Karen S. said...

Ha! Ha! There's a lot of mistaking on my part, I wish I knew all the names of these lovely creatures. One things for certain, I sure enjoy your captures, and it's fun seeing them all.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob - my goodness me .. what a delightful butterfly - love the colours and the description ... I haven't been following Springwatch ... but good to know that that butterfly is its standard this year ..

Stunning colours - cheers Hilary

Jo said...

That link just took me back to your page Bob.

Beth Lapin said...

Our orange tip in Connecticut (USA) is rare and nectars on trap rock ridges. Nice to know there are more common species elsewhere.


Bob and Barb said...

Interesting that your Falcate Orangetip lay eggs on garlic mustard. Our garlic mustard is extremely invasive, having left all its natural predators at home when it crossed the ocean. Our FOs recognize it as a mustard and lay eggs on it but their caterpillars succumb to the powerful garlic mustard toxins. The garlic mustard spreads in bottomlands so upland FOs caterpillars survive on their usual feed.

Any information on the survival of caterpillars on garlic mustard in your country?