I am no expert photographer, preferring to capture the moment than get a perfectly composed shot. The pictures on my blog are either taken with a compact Canon, a Panasonic Lumix FZ150 or on my phone.

Sunday 26 May 2024

Orange Tip Chrysalises

I used to always think that it was best to leave nature to look after itself, but after watching a number of caterpillars being washed away in heavy rain or eaten by birds and chrysalises being nibbled by mice, or just disappearing, I now think that maybe butterflies could do with a helping hand.

Over the winter I spotted a number of Orange Tip chrysalises on Honesty and Garlic Mustard stems. So I carefully cut the stems and put them in a mesh cage outside, but under cover.

They have been sitting there for about seven months until recently I noticed they started changing colour. Six of the chrysalises were straw coloured when I found them and two of them were green. However, half way through April I saw that they had all turned into more of a brown colour.

Then at the end of April I saw the tell-tale colour of the wings starting to show.

Two males emerged on 2nd May and flew off to join their friends.

On 3rd May a female emerged. It wasn't a particularly nice day and when I opened the cage to photograph her, she crawled onto my hand. After a while she flew off and landed in the grass. It started raining after that and in the evening I went out and she was still there. So, I popped her back into the safety of the cage.

The next day it rained all day and another female emerged. I left them in the cage and they sat on their stems not moving. After two more days of horrible weather I decided to dig up a Dandelion and put it in the cage for them to feed on. As soon as I coaxed them onto the flowers they started drinking water droplets off the petals. They remained on the flower and were still there the next morning.

Then the sun finally appeared at lunchtime and I was able to lift the pot out of the cage. They made a short flight onto the lawn and shortly afterwards flew off. I was so relieved that they had managed to survive four days of dull, rainy weather.

About 45 minutes later I was around the other side of the house and I found a paired couple of Orange Tips. I was able to identify one of them as the female who had spent the previous four days sheltering from the rain!

Over the next ten days the remaining four chrysalises all eclosed and they were all females. In fact it has been an interesting year for Orange Tips. I have never seen so many females. Normally, I would say 1 in 10 Orange Tips I see are female, but this year over a third of them have been female.


  1. I can't believe how fascinating the life cycle of the Orange Tip Chrysalises is! They are masters of camouflage (I hope it helps them survive in the long run too), but the fact that you sheltered them from the rain must have helped out a lot also. Perhaps the males could be found nearby you think? Great shots!

    1. Hi Maria. Yes, there were loads of males flying around this year. The males tend to emerge first. This species only has one generation a year, so they won't be around for many more days this year. They remain as a chrysalis from August until April or May!