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Provencal Orange-tip Butterfly - Anthocharis euphenoides

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Lepidoptera - Family: Pieridae

Provencal Orange-tip Butterfly (male), underwing view

Underwing view of male Provencal Orange-tip

Identification

The male Provencal Orange-tip butterfly (above) is immediately recognisable by the distinctive yellow background of its upperwings compared with the white background of the wings of the Orange-tip Butterfly Anthocharis cardomines which is so common in Britain and Ireland during springtime. The female is white with slight orange colouration across the upper forewing apical area.

Provencal Orange-tip butterfly - wings closed (male), upperwings

Upperwing view of male Provencal Orange-tip

A very similar butterfly, known as the Moroccan Orange-tip Anthocharis belia differs mainly in the underwing colouring of females. Some authorities treat this as merely a subspecies of A. euphenoides.

Distribution

Fairly common in southern France, Spain and much of Portugal, the Provencal Orange-tip occurs also in some parts of Italy, where it is localised and far from common. This lovely butterfly is not seen in Britain, where its close relative the Orange-tip Butterfly Anthocharis cardomines is a common sight in early spring.

Habitat

Early in the morning these colourful butterflies are most easily seen and photographed on flowers of the family Brassicaceae in roadside ditches and on woodland edges. Later, when the air warms up, they fly higher in woods and thickets and around crop trees such as olives on disused farmland, but in the heat of the day they pause only briefly to take nectar from flowers.

Lifecycle

Provencal Orange-tips can usually be seen on the wing in April and May; however, where they occur high in the Pyrenees they can sometimes be seen on the wing as late as July. This species produces a single brood, and the larval foodplants are Biscutella sempervirens and other members of the genus Biscutella in the family Brassicaceae.

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