The Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) butterflies have been active since late April.  The male is easy to recognize with bright orange tips on its forewings. The female, however, does not have the male’s orange markings. Instead she has dark grey wingtips with a black spot in the centre of each forewing.  Her hind wings are covered with green splotches. She is now seeking food plants on which to lay her eggs.  The Cuckoo- flower or Lady’s smock (Cardamine pratensis) is a favourite.  She will also lay eggs on Garlic mustard or Hedge garlic plants (Alliaria petiolate).  Only one egg is laid on each.

The Peacock (Inachis io) hibernates from September to February.  This very striking butterfly has false “eyes” on the forewings to scare predators away.  The female lays clusters of eggs on the underside of the Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).  The black caterpillars devour the plant for about a month and then pupate.

The brown Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria) with cream spots was also seen in April and will be visible until September.  The female will lay her eggs on wild grasses such as Cock’s foot and the caterpillars will eat the leaves of these. Therefore, for conservation purposes it is important that local authorities and farmers manage grasses growing on road and field verges. Gardeners and institutions can also help by creating wildflower meadows.

Male orange tip
Female orange tip butterfly
Hedge garlic
Lady’s smock
Speckled wood
Cock’s foot grass

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