Orange tip butterfly caterpillar

The Orange tip is one of the first butterflies you might see in the garden this spring. So, help celebrate 40 years of The Hungry Caterpillar Story by searching for one of your very own! The Orange tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) is a splendid little butterfly, and one that is out and about in April. The adult butterflies have white uppersides to their wings, the undersides have a mottled green pattern.

Fast Facts

Latin name: Anthocharis cardamines

Notable feature: Adult butterflies have white uppersides to their wings, the undersides have a mottled green pattern.

Rarity in the UK: Rare / Common

Only the male butterflies have bright orange wing tips, the females have grey/black tips. The very hungry caterpillars of this species can be found on their foodplants – cuckoo flower or lady’s smock (Cardamine pratensis) and garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).

The Orange tip is widespread in England, Wales and Ireland, it is more local in southern Scotland although does seem to be expanding its range northwards.

For more infomration on caterpillars and butterflies click here to visit the Butterfly Conservation website.

The Hungry Caterpillar

This year celebrates the 40th anniversary of one of our best-loved children’s books – The very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

For those unfamiliar with the story, this book chronicles the journey of a particularly hungry caterpillar as he seeks out sufficient nourishment for his eventual metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly. The book simply explains the life-cycle of butterflies whilst entertaining children with the gluttonous pursuits of the Caterpillar.

Buglife Conservation Officer Andrew Whitehouse comments “The Very Hungry Caterpillar is beautiful and wonderfully simple book which continues to entertain down the generations, I loved the book as a child and it is my daughter’s favourite bedtime story.”

At Buglife we are regularly asked “what do invertebrates do for humans?” We often respond by discussing the practical or economic services they provide such as pollination, however our arts and culture are also intimately linked to invertebrates: from children’s books and films (such as “Charlotte’s Web”, “Ants” or “A Bug’s Life”); to songs and nursery rhymes (“Ugly Bug Ball”, “Incy Wincy Spider”, “There’s a Worm at the Bottom of the Garden”); comic books (“Spider-man”); pop music (The Beatles, Buddy Holly and The Crickets) and, on a more negative note, adult horror films (“The Fly”, “Arachnophobia” or “Ants”). The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a shining example of the cultural importance of invertebrates.

There will be plenty of very hungry caterpillars and butterflies out and about in April, keep a look out for adult Brimstone, Orange tip, Comma, and Holly blue butterflies.