Back to list

Common brimstone

Gonepteryx rhamni

Photo: Common brimstone
Animal description
The Common Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) is a fascinating and distinctive species of butterfly that graces various landscapes across Europe and Asia. With its unique wing shape and coloration, this butterfly is easily recognizable and a favorite among nature enthusiasts and lepidopterists alike.

Belonging to the family Pieridae, which is known for the predominantly yellow and white colors of its members, the Common Brimstone stands out due to its leaf-like wings. The males of the species boast a vibrant, lemon-yellow coloration that seems to capture the very essence of sunlight. This bright coloration not only makes them visible when they flutter through sunlight patches in woodlands but also plays a crucial role in attracting mates. The females, on the other hand, are more subdued in their coloration, featuring a pale green or whitish hue that offers them exceptional camouflage against the foliage they often rest upon.

One of the most remarkable features of the Common Brimstone is its wing shape. The wings are notably elongated and have a unique, angular appearance, closely resembling leaves. This not only aids in their camouflage when resting but also gives their flight a distinctive, gliding motion that is beautiful to observe. The mimicry of leaves is further enhanced by the presence of a small, pointed 'tail' on each of the hindwings, mimicking the petiole of a leaf.

The lifecycle of the Common Brimstone is equally intriguing. Females lay their eggs singly on the leaves of their caterpillar's food plants, primarily buckthorns (Rhamnus) and alders (Alnus). The caterpillars are green and well-camouflaged against the leaves, making them difficult for predators to spot. After going through several developmental stages, they pupate, emerging as adults ready to continue the cycle.

One of the most delightful aspects of the Common Brimstone is its longevity. Unlike many butterflies that have short adult lives, the Common Brimstone can live for several months. This is partly due to their ability to hibernate over the winter, a trait that allows them to be among the first butterflies to emerge in the spring, bringing color back to the natural world after the winter months.

The Common Brimstone's habitat is varied, ranging from woodlands and hedgerows to grasslands and gardens. They are adaptable creatures, able to thrive in both rural and suburban settings where their food plants are available. This adaptability has ensured their survival and widespread distribution.

In conclusion, the Common Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni) is a remarkable butterfly with a distinctive appearance and fascinating behaviors. Its bright yellow males, leaf-mimicking wings, and long life make it a joy to observe for anyone interested in the natural world. As a species, it highlights the incredible adaptability and diversity of butterflies, serving as a vivid reminder of nature's beauty and complexity.
New photos of animals