I am of course referring to the butterfly, not an unsightly medical condition. I’ve spent plenty of time chasing them along hedgerows waiting for one to settle on a flower, but in vain, and you may recall that in a previous post I said that the orange tip was extremely difficult to photograph because they rarely settled.
That was until last weekend when, the weather was sunny, warm and calm so I went for a walk on Guns Lane to the north of Histon. I was rewarded fairly soon into my walk by a male orange tip settling on a plant on the edge of the pathway and allowing me to encroach within just a few inches:
Male orange tip. I think his underwings are exquisite, and it’s perfect camouflage when he’s perched on a cow parsley flower head.
This fellow was a good omen. Several hundred metres further along the path where the dense hedgerow thinned out into more open territory lined with cow parsley there were many male and female orange tips and they were all intent on mating on this particular morning.
Another male orange tip, this time with his wings open. And the colours on top are gorgeous too.
The female of the species doesn’t have the orange tips but is still distinctive from the other white butterflies:
Female orange tip. She is aware of the presence of males and is pointing her tail in the air in preparation for mating…
…and a few seconds later a male flew within a few centimetres and her reproductive organs are clearly visible opening up here in response to his presence.
The female above didn’t mate in this instance, but:
This pair were mating on the ground close by
And another female sits on a leaf as the male beats a post-coital retreat top right
I promised some pictures a few weeks ago of orange tips in the post ‘Local Lepidoptera’ so I was very pleased to capture this series of the mating behaviour so soon after.