Mexico, USA & Canada
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Anthocharis midea, Tennessee, USA ©
Anthocharis comprises of 17 known
species, popularly known as Orange-tips. The most common and widely
distributed species is
which is found across the whole of temperate Europe, in Asia north
of the Himalayas, and eastward to China and Japan.
There are 4 other
species found in Europe, plus 5 which are confined to the Far East,
and 7 species that are restricted to various parts of North America.
There is also another species - A. belia,
which is found in north Africa ( and is only very distantly related
to the Arabian and sub-Saharan Orange tips which are members of a
different genus - Colotis ).
Only the males of
Anthocharis have the orange apex. Most
of the species have rounded forewings, but in
midea ( and in the Chinese A. scolymus
) the apex is falcate. The underside hindwings of all
Anthocharis species are cryptically
patterned with greenish blotches or stripes on a white ground
colour, providing superb camouflage when the butterflies are at rest
on umbellifer flowers or on foliage. The green colour is an optical
illusion caused by a mixture of black and yellow wing scales.
Anthocharis midea is widespread in the
USA, east of the Great Plains.
This species is
found in forest glades, woodland edge habitats, and sheltered damp
meadows, at altitudes between sea level and about 1000m.
The egg is
skittle-shaped, and laid singly on the flower stalks of the larval
foodplants. When first laid it is yellowish-green, but soon changes
to a dull orange colour, then becomes greyish a day or two prior to
when fully grown is olive green, dotted with tiny black points. It
has a broad creamy white lateral stripe, and a blue-edged orange
mid-dorsal stripe. The caterpillars feed on the seed pods, stems and
leaves of various Cruciferae including
Lepidium. According to Scott females also sometimes oviposit
on Draba and
Capsella, but the resulting larvae die soon after hatching.
The caterpillars of all Anthocharis
species turn cannibalistic if they encounter others of their own or
any other species - a practice that probably evolved because a
single specimen of the foodplant is only sufficient to support a
single caterpillar to maturity.
The pupa is
boomerang-shaped, with a long pointed head-capsule, and is
straw-coloured, with tiny black dots on the abdomen and wing cases.
It is vertically attached by the tip of the abdomen to a twig or
stem, and secured by a silk girdle around the waist. The pupa
relentlessly back and forth across their habitat in search of virgin
females, pausing here and there for a few seconds to take nectar
from their larval foodplants and other spring flowers. Females also
commonly nectar at the same species of flowers, between egg-laying
bouts. Both sexes roost overnight on flowerheads, or on the upper
surface of the leaves of bushes, always choosing sheltered