Anthocharis damone

Eastern Orange Tip


by Matt Rowlings

copyright © 2003-2024

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Sicily, Italy, May 2018

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Sicily, Italy, May 2018

Field notes and information

I've only seen this species on Mt Etna in Sicily flying over lava flows. A dramatic environment with fine volcanic ash falling, crispy underfoot.

The rich yellow colour was lost on most of my video unfortunately. This was infact my first ever butterfly recorded on my video camera (not a bad first!) but I've since been unable to correct the yellow wash out.

Identification & Similar species: This and the Gruner's orange tip, A. gruneri, do overlap in a few places in the southern Balkans. That species is a very pale yellow and is much smaller. Its underside hindwing markings are also relatively bold green on a white ground colour compared to more extensive less well defined green on a yellow background of the eastern orange tip, A. damone.

Distribution & Flight: In Italy only from Mt Etna on Sicily and in the Balkans Peloppenesos, central mainland Greece and into FYROM.

It is sporadic in its range. Flies in a single brood in April and May depending on location.

Habitat & Behaviour: The larval food plant Isatis tinctoria is distinctive and widespread. Its tall yellow throws being clearly visible amongst the lava flows on Mt Etna and further afield. On Mt Etna itself the constantly changing landscape caused by different lava flows produced a fascinating mosaic of habitats. The oldest flows were colonised by scrub oak woodland, existing right beside the freshest flows only showing the very first signs of plant colonisation. Every stage of sparse grass, herbs and shrubs was to be found between these extremes. The butterflies would range across the various strips of habitat.

We only found a few females amongst all the bright yellow males. I suspect, as with all Anthocharis that the females fly much less than the males and so are less frequently encountered.

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Sicily, Italy, May 2000 (f)

My only photo of a female. They were rare compared to the males.

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Sicily, Italy, May 2018

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Sicily, Italy, May 2018

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Sicily, Italy, May 2018

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Sicily, Italy, May 2000 (m)

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Sicily, Italy, May 2000 (m)

Male feeding on the distinctive larval foodplant.

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Sicily, Italy, May 2000 (m)

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Sicily, Italy, May 2000 (m)

Male stirring in dull conditions.

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Sicily, Italy, May 2000 (m)