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

The males are unmistakeable; white butterflies with bright orange wing tips. The females are white with black wing tips. 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.

    Lifecycle

    Habitat

    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.

      Distribution

      • 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 = +7%

      Factsheets

      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)