Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Wingspan 2 1/4 " ( 57 mm.)
The butter or Sulphur coloured Butterfly is often the first and the last Buttefly seen each year since it Hibernates in November and flies on fine February days. Living about 10 months Brimstones hibernate amongst Ivy leaves whose wing shape they resemble The incidence of Brimstone depends entirley on the distribution of Buckthorn theri food plant . Primroses are pollinated by the long tongues of these early nectar seeking butterflies
Medium to large sized: wingspan, 60 mm.
Males are a bright yellow on both surfaces of both sets of wings. There is a small yellow-brown spot in the centre of each wing; those on the underside of the hind wings being the most conspicuous having a darker outer margin and a paler centre.
Females are much paler, almost off-whitish, with a greenish tint. The Brimstones wings are characteristically shaped with a bluntly hooked forewing and an abbreviated tail on the hind wings.
Behaviour and life history
The Brimstone is a species of the woodland edges and hedgerows where it spends much of its time flying up and down searching for a mate, in spring, or sources of nectar at other times. It settles for quite a time once it finds a good food source. It is particularly attracted to teasels and thistles. The butterfly overwinters as an adult hidden away in dense evergreen foliage such as Ivy. It makes an early appearance in the spring and lays its eggs in May and June on Alder Buckthorn, Frangula alnus. Larval development is completed by mid July and, after a short pupation, adults hatch from late July onwards.
Where to look for it
As one of the earliest butterflies on the wing, this distinctive butterfly is most commonly associated with woodland edges and hedgerows but its can roam anywhere and is not uncommonly seen in gardens and built up areas. Particularly good sites for observing this species are the rides and woodland margins
Distribution and status