Brimstones & Orange Tips

Met up with Ian at Askham Bog YWT reserve today to have a go at some butterflies. I visited this reserve yesterday but it was just so warm that the butterflies just kept on flying! Today however, was a bit cooler and we managed the target species of brimstone and orange tips both of which are at their best just now. The brimstone is a large very bright yellow butterfly so you just can’t mistake it around here for anything else, but at close range they are more than just yellow; the underwings are marked with delicate reddish pink spots and the wing shape is fabulous, very much resembling a leaf. Unless they perch in the open they are very hard to spot. The orange tips are having a whale of a time in all this hot spring sunshine – they are on the wing in early April through to early May and are really benefitting at the moment. I can’t remember seeing so many. The food plant of the orange tip is the delicate, pale pink meadow flower called cuckoo flower or ladies’ smock and these small white butterflies flit from flower to flower, the males being unmistakeable with their bright orange wing tips. The females, however, look like a small white at first glance but resting up they reveal a really well marked underwing of mossy green veins covering the wing.

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