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Brimstone Butterfly

gonepteryx rhamni

The Brimstone is an early arrival in the gardens, being one of the few UK butterfly species to hibernate as an adult. After a winter sleeping in holly, ivy or bramble bushes, it emerges during the first warm spring days. We also see the Brimstone a good deal in early autumn, when it is busy seeking out nectar to build up its energy reserves for the coming months.


It's a comparatively large butterfly and when roosting the angular shape of its wings closely resemble leaves. 

The bottle-shaped eggs are laid singly on the underside of young buckthorn leaves growing in the surrounding hedgerows. The bluish-green caterpillars emerge towards the end of May and can quickly decimate the buckthorn foliage. The chrysalis is green with purple markings and shaped like a curled-up leaf, so can be hard to find. 

brimstone butterly by Duncan Harris
© Duncan Harris

Life Cycle

brimestone butterfly life cycle

To Learn More

Visit Butterfly Conservation

Copyright © Karen Meadows 2018 

The word 'butterfly' is believed to derive from 'butter-coloured fly' and refer to the yellow, male Brimstone. The female is a much lighter, whitish green. 

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