Species of the Month: Brimstone butterfly
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April Species of the Month: Brimstone butterfly
Scientific Name: Gonepteryx rhamni
The brimstone is a fairly large, pale yellow butterfly, with distinctive, leaf-shaped wings. The males have a slightly brighter yellow tone, whereas the females are paler green toned. Both have a small orange-brown spot on each wing.
The larvae are also green and well camouflaged to leaves.
Using their especially long proboscis, brimstones consume nectar from flowers that are beyond the reach of many other butterflies, generally having a preference for purple flowers.
The foodplants of the larvae are Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn.
Unlike many butterflies, brimstone can hibernate through cold weather in adult form. They may be seen flying on warm days throughout the year, although they are most common in the spring.
Did you know?
Some believe that the origin of the word 'butterfly' comes from the yellow colour of male Brimstones.
When picked up, the brimstone becomes stiff and hides its legs from view in order to increase its leaf-like appearance and decrease its chances of being recognised.
Where can they be found?
Wildlife gardening tips
To attract brimstones to your garden, plant buckthorn for the larvae to eat.
It is a good idea to plant ivy and allow it to climb around trees or structures to provide them with safe areas to hibernate.
Plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along.
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Species of the Month sightings form
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