Lepidoptera The Orange Tip Butterfly – Euchloe Cardamines
No one could possibly mistake the male of this species for any other British butterfly, the popular name alone giving quite sufficient information for its identification, but the female Orange Tip is not tipped with orange, and its markings, both above and beneath, resemble those of Daplidice so nearly that the same written description might apply almost equally well to both.
On Plate I (fig. 7) is shown the upper side of the male, and just opposite it (fig. 8) the under surface of the same. The female is usually a little larger than her mate, and is marked similarly on both sides except that the bright orange blotch is entirely wanting. She may always be distinguished from Daplidice by the smaller size of the white spots that break the dark blotch at the tip of the fore wing; also by the very small size of the dark spot in the centre of the same wing. The green chequerings of the under side of the hind wings are also more sharply defined, and the insect is generally of a lighter build.
Like many other butterflies, the Orange Tip is subject to variations in colouring. Sometimes a pale but bright yellow takes the place of the white ground, and the orange blotch of the male is occasionally present on the upper or lower surface only.
Cardamines is a single-brooded insect, and is essentially a creature of the spring, at which time it may be found in abundance in lanes, meadows, and clearings in woods throughout the British Isles. Its flight is so light and airy that even the female may easily be distinguished from other Whites when on the wing, while the brilliant orange of the male, intensified by the bright rays of the spring sun, may be identified at some considerable distance.
The food plants of Cardamines include the cuckoo-flower (Cardamine pratensis) and the bitter cress (C. impatiens), after which the insect is named, also water-cress (Nasturtium officinale), winter cress (Barbarea vulgaris), rock cress (Arabis perfoliata), hedge mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Jack-by-the-hedge (S. Alliaria), wild mustard (Brassica Sinapis), &c., and the eggs of the butterfly may be found on these during May and June.
The caterpillar (Plate VIII, fig. 2) is green, with a white stripe on each side, and its body is covered with short hair. In July it is fully grown, and ascends a stem of the food plant to prepare itself for its long winter sleep.
The chrysalis (Plate VIII, fig. 8) is a very peculiar object. Both ends are much elongated and sharply pointed; and the foremost extremity stands out at an angle with the stem to which it is attached.
This butterfly should be looked for during April and May, but in mild seasons it may often be met with in March.