Common Brimstone Butterfly

The Common Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) is a medium-sized insect in the Pieridae family – white, yellow, and orange butterflies.

The male and female Common Brimstone Butterfly look different. The male has yellow wings with iridescence. The female has greenish-white wings with no iridescence. It has one small orange-brown spot on each of its four wings. Its body is dark-brown. It has medium-sized antennae.

Common Brimstone Butterfly

Common Brimstone Butterfly (male)


It measures about 6 centimetres (2 inches) in length.

The Common Brimstone Butterfly is common across Europe, Asia, and North Africa in the Northern Hemisphere. It prefers wetlands, especially during the breeding season. It also likes woodlands.

The Common Brimstone hibernates or remains inactive for seven months over winter. It hides and remains motionless. This is called diapause. When diapause ends, the butterfly looks for a mate.

The female lays long, thin eggs on the underside of plant leaves. The eggs hatch into caterpillars (the larvae stage). The caterpillars feed on leaves and after about 14 days, the caterpillars pupate. The pupa is like a cocoon, but it is called a chrysalis. The time from egg to adult butterfly is about 50 days, and is called metamorphosis (transformation or change).

The adult butterfly sips on the nectar of flowers.

It lives, on average, for about 10 months.


Photographer: Martina Nicolls



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