The Brimstone has spread in recent years, mainly in northern England and there are occasional records in southern Scotland. When this butterfly roosts among foliage, the angular shape and the strong veining of their wings closely resembles leaves.

There is a view that the word 'butterfly' originates from the yellow colour of male Brimstones. The wings of the female are very pale green, almost white, males have yellow-green underwings and yellow upperwings.

Size and Family

  • Family: Whites and Yellows 
  • Size: Large
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 60mm

Caterpillar Foodplants

The larvae feed on leaves of Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), which occurs mainly on calcareous soils, and Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus), which is found on moist acid soils and wetlands.



Occurs in scrubby grassland and woodland. The butterfly ranges widely and can often be seen flying along roadside verges and hedgerows.


Brimstone's foodplants, Purging and Alder Buckthorn, do not occur natively in Scotland.