Male vs. female

Some species of butterflies are known for sexual dimorphism. The different appearance of male and female individuals are most commonly visible on the adult butterflies. However, since the chrysalis of some butterflies turns transparent before the adult hatches, the differences can become visible already.

During winter 2015/2016 I kept chrysalises from the Large White (Pieris brassicae) and the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines). Both species have sexual dimorphism, especially the Orange Tip where the orange color is only present on the male’s wings. In case of the Large White the black dots are only present on the female’s wings.

I managed to get some photos from chrysalises of both sexes prior to hatching. Here’s how easy the gender can be identified (once the pupa turns transparent). The photos of the adult Orange Tips are from the wild but added as a further reference to show the difference between female and male.

Orange Tips everywhere

Early June this year I tried my last attempts in finding caterpillars of the Lesser Purple Emperor (Apatura ilia). While I had no luck with this species there was another caterpillar that seemed to appear everywhere. Regardless what the location was, there were always caterpillas of the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines).

Of course, I must admit that I did like to keep an eye on the suitable food plant. In the previous year the Orange Tip was one of my season’s targets to raise. I guess it’s all about learning how to find caterpillars (or eggs). Once learned, they’ll appear everywhere. I did not take any caterpillars for raising this summer, but I took the chance to get some photos from the wild.

Translucent Orange Tip

The chrysalis of many butterfly species become translucent before the adult hatches. In case of male Orange Tip butterflies (Anthocharis cardamines) the sight is particularly beautiful.

This specimen was raised from egg to adult butterfly. The second shot presents a freshly hatched female Orange Tip, drying its wings before taking off for its first flight.

Raising the Orange Tip

Late in spring I love when the first Orange Tip butterflies (Anthocharis cardamines) start appearing. The orange color of the male butterflies is something that I’ve enjoyed already as a small boy.

Season 2015 I set myself the target to raise this species. Finding the first egg one a great feeling. It turned out to be rather easy after that to locate many more. Even mid-sized to adult caterpillars (once you know where eggs where laid a couple weeks earlier).

Here’s a couple shots from adult caterpillars and the chrysalis.

How to find eggs of the Orange Tip

The Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) is a common butterfly (that counts at least up here in Finland) and finding eggs is not too difficult. However, as with any species, the time and place must be right.

The shape of the eggs is pretty similar to those of the Common Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni). Eggs will be around only for a short period as the caterpillars tend to hatch already after 5-7 days. Once you start seeing the first males flying, wait for another moment. I waited two weeks this spring after spotting the first male, and got lucky. The first female I actually sighted after first finding the first eggs.

Here’s a couple photos from my search this spring. I also tried to capture the larval habitat to show what kind of surrounding I found eggs in.

Aurora time


This time of the year it’s the season of one of my favorite butterflies: the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines). In many languages (German, Finnish and Swedish to name some) the species is called Aurora Butterfly.

I just want to share some of the shots I recently got from both male and female specimen. Note that, despite of its name, only the male carries the orange tip on its wings.

This year I also wanted to raise caterpillars of this species. In fact, I’ve already collected some eggs last weekend. I’ll drop some tips on how to track down eggs later on in a separate post.

Early Orange Tip

Today’s true surprise was the Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) which came out of the blue. Just a moment earlier I thought I’d have spotted my first Map (Araschnia levana) this spring, no confirmation on that sighting though.

I was browsing through a field when one of my all-time favorites flew by, right towards me. In case of this species Orange Tip is the perfectly matching name. However, worth being mentioned, it’s only the male which actually carries orange on its wings. Females are plain white.

I had to wait for quite some time before the butterfly took a rest from flying. My luck that it decided on a spot which was easily accessible. No doubt, since I got some ok shots this is one of this season’s highlights.

Nevertheless, the Orange Tip was not the only species around. Also flying, for the first time this spring, were the Green-veined White (Pieris napi) and masses of Green Hairstreaks (Callophrys rubi). I’ve actually never met this little green pearls before. While flying it’s hardly to recognize them and they appear just like a buzzing insect. However, once landed they look like green jewels.