Anthocharis cardamines (F)

Posted by Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 6 June 2012 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

Anthocharis cardamines (NL: Oranjetipje / EN: Orange Tip / DE: Aurorafalter / FR: Aurore) is a butterfly in the Pieridae family. So named because of the male's bright orange tips to his forewings. The males are a common sight in spring flying along hedgerows and damp meadows in search of the more reclusive female (see image) which lacks the orange and is often mistaken for one of the other 'White' butterflies. The undersides are mottled green and white and create a superb camouflage when settled on flowerheads such as Cow Parsley and Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata. The female lays eggs singly on the flowerheads of Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis) and Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and many other species of wild Crucifers, all of which contain chemicals called glucosinolates. Selection of foodplants is triggered by the presence of mustard oils and their derivative glucosinolates, which (in Pierinae) are detected by chemosensory hairs on the fore-legs. Reproductive rate of females appears to be limited by difficulties in finding suitable hosts. As a consequence, the species has evolved to use a wide range of crucifers.
The female in this image is preparing for the night during the last sunlight on one of the already mentioned hostplants - Alliaria petiolata


Image: Wijnegem (BE) – 04/05/2012

© Johan Dierckx

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