The Brimstone, Gonopteryx rhamni

Does the butter-coloured Brimstone give all “butter-flies” their name? At the end of winter, the Brimstone is one of the earliest butterflies to be seen on the wing, although the pale females may often be mistaken for Large Whites. They can be seen all over the parish, but I have most regularly seen them in the wooded areas to the North such as near Dene Park and Clearhedges Wood, and then a bit later they do tend to wander along all the hedgerows and through the gardens in the village quite a lot. 

Its a relatively large sized yellowish butterfly generally seen fluttering over hedges, often moving at speed – I have relatively few photographs! There is just one generation but their flight period spreads over much of the year, from August to June. On average the males emerge slightly before the females. Each individual has a lifespan many months.


This is a rather battered male, trying to snack on a primrose flower.

Photographed in Denge Woods.


Life cycle

Here is a female Brimstone laying an egg on an Alder Buckthorn leaf.

This is the egg just laid, quite long and thin (spindle-shaped):


Predators and parasites