Brimstones are common bright yellow butterflies and are often cited as the first butterflies of the year because adults hibernate over winter in woodlands and emerge on warm spring days. However, new adults emerge from their chrysalis in July and live for a year. Males have sulphur-yellow fore and hindwings with an orange central spot, the females’ wings are a more delicate yellow or pale green. Despite their opened-wing brilliant colour they are masters of disguise when closed as their under-wing colour and shape provide camouflage for resting and hibernating adults. They can be easily seen in flight in meadows, sipping nectar from teasel, knapweed and buddleia.
Did you know?
There is a popular myth that the name "butterfly" may have originated with the common brimstone.
Scientific name: Gonepteryx rhamni
The following habitats are found across the Brimstone distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Gonepteryx rhamni (known as the Common Brimstone) is a butterfly of the Pieridae family. It lives in Europe, North Africa and Asia; across much of its range, it is the only species of its genus, and is therefore simply known locally as the brimstone.
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