Common and widespread, this medium-sized butterfly can be found in gardens and hedgerows.

The males are unmistakable; white butterflies with bright orange wingtips. The females are white with black wingtips. Both have mottled green underwings.

The Small White is very similar to the female but lacks the underwing markings. Discover how to identify white butterflies with this handy guide.

Size and Family

  • Family: Whites and yellows
  • Size: Medium
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 45-50mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low
  • European status: Not threatened

Caterpillar Foodplants

Several crucifers are used, especially Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) in damp meadows and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) along road verges and ditches. Occasionally, it uses Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Winter-cress (Barbarea vulgaris), Turnip (Brassica rapa), Charlock (Sinapis avensis), Large Bitter-cress (C. amara), and Hairy Rock-cress (Arbis hirsuta). In addition, it lays its eggs on Honesty (Lunaria annua) and Dame's-violet (Hesperis matronalis) in gardens, but larval survival is thought to be poor on these plants.



Orange-tips prefer damp habitats such as meadows, woodland glades, hedgerows and the banks of streams and rivers, but readily visit gardens.

Send us your sightings

Seen an Orange-tip? Our free iRecord Butterflies app will guide you through the identification of any butterfly that you see in the UK and allow you to add your sighting to millions of other valuable records that inform the work of Butterfly Conservation.


  • Countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
  • Widespread throughout Britain and Ireland, having spread considerably in Scotland over the past 30 years
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = +8%


Orange-tip (male/upperwing) - Adam Gor

Orange-tip (male/upperwing)

Orange-tip (female/upperwing) - Tamás Nestor

Orange-tip (female/upperwing)

Orange-tip (male/underwing) - Adam Gor

Orange-tip (male/underwing)

Orange-tip (female/underwing) - Adam Gor

Orange-tip (female/underwing)

Orange-tip (male/underwing) - Iain Leach

Orange-tip (male/underwing)

Orange-tip (male/upperwing) - Iain Leach

Orange-tip (male/upperwing)

Orange-tip (female/upperwing) - Gilles San Martin

Orange-tip (female/upperwing)

Orange-tip (male & female) - Adam Gor

Orange-tip (male & female)

Orange-tip (egg) - Andrew Cooper

Orange-tip (egg)

Orange-tip (mature egg) - Gilles San Martin

Orange-tip (mature egg)

Orange-tip (caterpillar) - Gilles San Martin

Orange-tip (caterpillar)

Orange-tip (pupa) - Dean Morley

Orange-tip (pupa)