Found on the Greenway: Falcate Orange Tip Butterflies
By Jim Bogenschneider, Catawba Master Naturalist
Early in the spring is when you will see the Falcate Orange Tip butterflies (Anthocharis midea). These small white butterflies are one of the harbingers of spring. They can be seen from mid-March through May, so keep an eye open as they will soon be active. It is the male that gives this butterfly its name because of his bright orange tipped wings, while the female is all white. Both the male and female have black eye spots on the upper wing and are marbled on the underside.
The Falcate Orange Tip butterfly will lay a single egg per plant and only on plants in the mustard family including rock cress, winter cress, and toothwort. The caterpillar pupates by late spring and spends most of the year as a chrysalis that is yellowish in color and covered with black spots. Some individuals even spend a second winter in the chrysalis stage. The caterpillar is olive-green with a yellow mid dorsal stripe and a white stripe on each side that runs the length of the body. If you want to get a close look at this butterfly you will need to be very patient and let them come to you. I am looking forward to more hikes on the trails to see what nature is up to and what else can be found on the Greenway.