Orange-tip caterpillars feed mainly on Hedge-mustard, Lady's Smock (cardamine pratensis), Winter-cress and other wild members of the brassica family. The butterfly will also sometimes lay its eggs on Honesty (lunaria annua) and Dame's Violet (hesperis matronalis).
The Orange-tip is a regular visitor to the gardens and a true sign of spring, being one of the first species to emerge that has not overwintered as an adult.
The male and female of this species are very different in appearance. The more-conspicuous male has orange tips to the forewings - hence the butterfly's name. These orange tips are absent in the female which is often mistaken for one of the other whites, especially the Green-veined White or Small White. Both male and female Orange-tips have mottled green underwings.
The Orange-tip does not live in colonies and wanders in every direction as it flies along hedgerows and woodland margins looking for a mate, nectar sources and foodplants. Traditional orchards provide it with the dappled summer shade it loves.
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