Image Size: 10″ x 7-3/4″
These bright lemon-yellow butterflies, with their distinctive wing shape, are probably the best contenders for the use of the English name “butterfly.” With the exception of a small orange spot along the end of the cell on both wings, there are few minute brown spots on the under surface of the hindwing. The females are similar in markings, but a pale greenish-yellow in color.
Widely distributed in heaths, along hedges or near the edges of woods in northern Africa and Europe, its range overlaps that of its favorite larval hostplant, the buckthorn. The Brimstone overwinters as an adult and is one of the first species on the wing in early spring or even on warm winter days. With other pierid butterflies, the Brimstone is sometimes prone to local migration and may be found at some distance from its original territory.
In the pierid butterflies, such as Gonepteryx rhamni, the yellow and yellowish green areas of the male forewing reflect ultra-violet light displaying a different pattern than is apparent to the human eye. Presumably, these butterflies use these species-specific ultra-violet reflection patterns as a means of sexual recognition.
Text by Jacqueline Miller, PhD, Associate Curator, Allyn Museum of Entomology, Florida Museum of Natural History and Former President, Lepidotpterists’ Society
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