Brimstone butterfly by Elizabeth Dack 1/6
Brimstone Butterfly by Jackie Dent 2/6
Brimstone butterfly on thistle by Karen Husband 3/6
Brimstone butterfly at Warham Camp by Elizabeth Dack 4/6
Brimstone butterfly at Strumpshaw by Paul Taylor 5/6
Brimstone at Horsey gap by Nick Goodrum 6/6

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni

It is often a male brimstone fluttering past on a sunny day in late March which signals the real arrival of spring in a country garden. The brimstone overwinters as an adult and is therefore one of the first butterflies to emerge in spring. The male, being pure lemon yellow is very well known. The female is a very pale green and might, at first glance, be mistaken for one of the whites, which belong to the same family of butterflies: Pieridae. Like many species of Pieridae, the brimstone undertakes long journeys across the countryside in search of the very specific plants on which females lay their eggs and caterpillars grow to maturity.

Conservation status

The brimstone is a common species and, although its larval foodplants are restricted to relatively few habitats, the adult may be seen throughout the county, for example in gardens with Buddleias. Though most butterflies have declined in recent decades, the brimstone is not a species of immediate conservation concern.

Related questions & advice

What is the difference between moths and butterflies?


Did you know? The brimstone is thought to be the original butterfly, named for the yellow colour of the male.

Brimstone is an old name for sulphur, the colour which perfectly matches the male’s wings.
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