The orange tip and the brimstone are Britain's most typical early-spring butterflies, and the orange tip, unlike most other species, only has one generation: it flies mainly in the month of April, and after that you will not see it again. This is because its caterpillars feed on the flowers and seeds, rather than the leaves, of its food plants; once the flowers have briefly bloomed and dropped, there is no more food. The insects spend the winter as chrysalises, and emerge in April as waving spring banners of orange and white.
Larval foodplants: garlic mustard and lady's smock
Where seen: a wide range of damp grassy habitats, including meadows, grassy areas in woodland, road verges and waterside habitats such as ditches and the banks of rivers and canals. Most of the UK except northern Scotland.
Current conservation status: Increase of nine per cent 1976- 2008. Spreading north and west in Scotland, where it is now widespread. No marked change in population levels, because colonisations are balanced by reduction in populations in some areas due to habitat loss. 2008 was a very bad year, though its longer term trend is positive