Brimstone Butterfly, Gonepteryx rhamni. Devon, UK.

Found in Europe, Asia, and even north Africa, it is one of the longest lived butterflies, living up to thirteen months, although most of this time is spent in hibernation. On the upper side the male is sulphur yellow and the female white with a greenish tinge but both have an orange spot in the center of each wing. They never settle with their wings open and from the underside the sexes are more difficult to separate but the female is still paler. Their wing shape is unique among British butterflies (although there are similar, closely related species in southern and eastern Europe) and is designed to act as camouflage while they rest and during hibernation. widely distributed across the southern half of the UK, it has been steadily increasing its range in the north of England but is limited by the distribution of its larval foodplants and is quite possibly close to its maximum possible distribution now unless their foodplants’ range also increases. In Ireland it has a much more localised distribution. It is widespread across Europe, North Africa and eastwards to Mongolia Often the first butterfly to be seen in the spring, sometimes as early as January when hibernating adults are awoken on a sunny day, there is a popular myth that it is this butterfly which gave us the word BUTTERFLY, a corruption of butter-coloured fly. The eggs are laid singly on the leaves of either Common Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn – the only two food plants – and females will wander far and wide in search for these particular shrubs. The larvae and Pupae are both green and very well camouflaged making them difficult to find in the wild. Upon emerging from the pupae, Brimstone butterflies spend the summer feeding on nectar to build up energy reserves for the winter and by the end of August they are already beginning their long sleep. They seek out evergreen scrub, a favourite being dense, old Ivy growth. There is only one brood a year.


butterfly, brimstone

Thank you for viewing this image.

I am based in the South West of England and fascinated by the natural world.

My main NATURELENS website can be accessed via this link

It contains many articles and links on digital wildlife/landscape photography which I hope you find intersting.

View Full Profile


  • Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)
    Neil Bygrave (...almost 6 years ago

  • Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)
    Neil Bygrave (...almost 6 years ago

  • gladders
    gladdersalmost 6 years ago

    Beautiful image. Love the light and the silhouette of the body through the wings. Excellent comp too!

  • Thank you Simon

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

  • jesika
    jesikaalmost 6 years ago

    Super, super, super.
    Did you guess I like it????

  • I guess you like this one then :-), Thank you for your comment

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

  • Curtiss Simpson
    Curtiss Simpsonalmost 6 years ago

    Awesome light and color lovely composition a real eye grabber !

  • Thank you Curtiss, comments much appreciated :-)

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

  • eaglewatcher
    eaglewatcheralmost 6 years ago

    Awesome shot — great light and dof to make this one stand out

  • Thank you Michael

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

  • RedHillDigital
    RedHillDigitalalmost 6 years ago

    Excellent capture!

  • Thank you Howard

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

  • Mundy Hackett
    Mundy Hackettalmost 6 years ago

    Beautiful composition

  • Thanks Munday, much appreciated

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

  • velveteagle
    velveteaglealmost 6 years ago

    Oh this came out so cool.. Wonderful back light work..

  • Thanks Chuck :-)

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

  • Anthony Hedger Photography
    Anthony Hedger...almost 6 years ago

    Well Neil again you have given us what we have begun to expect from you another super shot well done this is beautiful

  • Hi Tony, many thanks for your comments

    – Neil Bygrave (NATURELENS)

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait