A female Brimstone feeding at Ryton Wood. © 2007 -2021 Steven Cheshire.
Warm sunny days in early March brings the lemon-yellow male Brimstone out from hibernation, closely followed a week or so later by the bluish-white females. The Brimstone is one of the longest living of British Butterflies and is the only species outside the Nymphalidae family to hibernate as an adult butterfly. The male Brimstone is thought to be the original 'butter-coloured fly.
The bright, rich yellow of the male Brimstone butterfly cannot be confused with any other UK butterfly. The female, however, is a very pale yellow/bluish white and is easily confused for a Large White.
The Brimstone is usually found in grassland, woodland edges and woodland rides, open areas and hedgerows but can also be found in any location even where the larval foodplant is not present as the butterfly may travel widely from its larval home.
The larvae of the Brimstone feed on Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus).
Plant Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) or Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) in a sunny location and the Brimstone female will find your garden and lay her eggs.
The Brimstone is a widespread species in Warwickshire. As you can see from the distribution maps below, it is a species that seems to be coping reasonably well with climate change and changes in habitat although there are some losses in the county which may be the result of recording effort. The 2015 to 2019 distribution map will hopefully continue to show that this species remains stable.