Anthocharis cardamines | Orange-tip | Barr Buí



Conservation status

Ireland: Least Concern (Regan et al., 2010)
Europe: Least Concern (van Swaay et al., 2010)
Climate risk category: Potential Climate Change Risk; present distribution in Europe can be explained by climate to only a limited extent (Settele et al., 2008)

Legal status

The Orange Tip is not afforded legal protection in Ireland.

Native status


Species Biology


Key identification features include:

  • Medium size, wingspan: 40 - 52 mm
  • Males with prominent bright orange patch on forewing
  • Both sexes have green marbling on under hindwing


Generalist on tall-herb forest clearings, eutrophic non-flooded humid grassland, field margins, parks and gardens, cutover bog.  Adult males fly actively in sunshine along hedgerows or over damp meadows, but the female is less active and tends to stay close to foodplants. Both sexes rest on flowerheads, where the green mottling of the underside of the hindwing provides cryptic protection (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Flight period

Univoltine: from April to July.

Life cycle

Eggs are laid upright on the base of a calyx or on the stem immediately below on the foodplant; usually singly, but sometimes in small groups. After consuming the eggshell the larva feeds on the opening seedpods of the foodplant, and later also on the buds, flowers and leaves. It remains on or close to the seedpods throughout. Pupation occurs about mid-June, and the pupa, which is attached to a stem other than that of the foodplant, overwinters, staying in this stage for 10-11 months (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Food plants

The larva almost exclusively feed on Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis).

Flowers visited

Generalist, the adult nectar sources include:  Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Hawkweeds (Hieracium/Hypochoeris), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Red Campion (Silene dioica) and Vetches (Vicia spp.).


World distribution(GBIF)

It is a Palaearctic species occurring from Western Europe to China, but does not occur in North Africa (Nash, et al. 2012)

Irish distribution

Occurs throughout the country.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2022

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Bond, K.G.M. and Gittings, T. 2008. Database of Irish Lepidoptera. 1 - Macrohabitats, microsites and traits of Noctuidae and butterflies. Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 35. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland.

Regan, E.C., Nelson, B., Aldwell, B., Bertrand, C., Bond, K., Harding, J., Nash, D., Nixon, D. and Wilson, C.J. 2010. Ireland Red List No. 4 – Butterflies. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

Settele, J., Kudrna, O., Harpke, A., Kühn, I., Van Swaay, C., Verovnik, R., Warren, M.S., Wiemers, M., Hanspach, J., Hickler, T. and Kühn, E. 2008. Climatic risk atlas of European butterflies. Sofia-Moscow: Pensoft.

Van Swaay, C., Cuttelod, A., Collins, S., Maes, D., López Munguira, M., Šašic, M., Settele, J., Verovnik, R., Verstrael, T., Warren, M., Wiemers, M. and Wynhof, I. 2010. European Red List of Butterflies. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.