Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A True Harbinger of Spring !

The Orange Tip Butterfly is one of our first Butterflies to emerge as an adult in the spring, no overwinter hibernation for this little Beauty. but life is short as an adult, no more than four weeks, the male Orange Tip leads a short nomadic life, there main aim to find a female and reproduce. they always appear to be on the go, those bright orange wing tips catching your attention as they flutter by, frustratingly hardly ever appearing to settle.

This and the Brimstone have always been difficult for me to get a decent photograph, so  I was quite surprised to come across this male Orange Tip nectaring on a  Dandelion flower head, and remaining there for a minute or two.

The male Orange tip differs from the many Small White Butterflies by those brilliant orange patches on the wing tips, the underside of the wings are mottled green and white and act as a perfect camouflage when resting on  Garlic Mustard plants, this is where the females are usally to be found, which are much more reclusive than the males.

As you can see in the photograph the green mottling is a perfect camouflage when resting, but those bright orange wing tips are easily spotted, not only by the casual observer, but predatory birds.

The Orange colour is suppose to act as a warning to birds that these Butterflies taste bad, on account that their bodies contain large amounts of mustard oil, not sure if that is entirely true, but certainly sounds feasible.

The female Orange Tips do not have these orange wing tips as they stay close to there larval food plants, Cuckooflower and Garlic Mustard plants. where their under-wing green mottling helps to camouflage them

(The caterpillars of the Orange tip feed on the developing seed pods of Cuckooflower and Garlic Mustard accumulating the mustard oil within there bodies.)

Male Orange Tip Butterfly

Orange Tip Butterfly & Bee-fly

It was nice to capture the orange wing tips and the green mottling on the under-wing in the same photograph. shows what an attractive Butterfly this is. Just need to search for a female now to complete the set.

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