Friday, 30 April 2010


Following my sighting of the Orange Tip butterflies two days ago, their foodplant - Cuckoo Flower or Milkmaids, Cardamine pratensis - has just flowered, bang on schedule. Orange Tips have an extremely tight relationship with their larval foodplant, and I hope to track progress over the next few weeks.

Greater Stitchwort is very much later this year:

Due to our hard winter after a series of very mild winters, all species are later than they have been in recent years, although I'm noticing that different species are delayed more than others. I can't quite see a pattern, yet, but it seems that the species that would normally be very early are delayed the most.


The Weaver of Grass said...

How interesting that you also call the cuckoo flower 'milkmaids' as they do here in N Yorkshire. I think another name is Ladies' Smocks. They are out here too, as it stitchwort.

Stuart said...'ll have to blame Gill for that.....she's from your neck of the woods. Lady's Smock is indeed another common name, but I usually just call it cardamine. The fields here are now pink with it.

Aquarium Pet Supplies said...

Interesting that your Cuckoo Flower is only just coming into bloom. Down in Sussex we have had it open for several weeks - and yet I too have only just started to see orange tips in the last few days.

Stuart said...

APS: Orange Tips use a number of crucifers as larval foodplants. On my patch they certainly use Cuckoo flower. In other areas they also use Dames Violet, Honesty and Garlic Mustard. Perhaps your local population of Orange Tip uses one of those? Have a look at the Cuckoo flowers on south-facing banks: there might well be orange eggs just behind the flowers. Usually only one per plant (they're cannibals), but later in the season you'll find more per plant as the females dump eggs when they can't find empty suitable plants.

Gill said...

"you'll have to blame Gill for that." Guilty as charged. Mine aren't even showing yet - but we have had a lot of very cold air in off the North Sea (temp was 4.5°C on Sunday while we were plant-hunting). Garlic mustard on the other hand is now in flower and I'm pretty sure my orange tips use that (well, I've seen at least one female laying on it, and none on the milkmaids).