Spending Time with Western Orangetips Butterflies

When the sweet Sara Orangetip (Anthocharis sara) flutters by, you know that springtime has arrived in Southern California’s coastal communities.

I spent an afternoon watching for this citrus tipped beauty as I explored the chaparral which adorns the rolling hills above the city of San Clemente.

male sara orangetip

To my delight I found a couple of courting Orangetips. The female was more interested in the nectar laden Sea-Lavender (Limonium) than she was in flirting with the male and so he was rejected repeatedly. Poor fella!

orangetips courting

Upon further study, I also noticed that this particular lady appeared to have the markings of the Desert Orangetip (Anthocharis centhura) and the male looked as though he were a Sara Orangetip (Anthocharis sara).

orangetip female laying eggs

Had she drifted over with the currents from Santa Catalina, I wondered, as I stood upon the cliffs gazing at the petite isle silhouetted amongst the pacific skyline.

sara orangetip male2

Had she left the solitude of her isolated colony there to search for her favorite host plant, some native mustard, Tansy perhaps? (Descurainia pinnata)  If  this is the case, and you’re a male Sara Orangetip looking for a mate, then it’s best to stay clear of  out- of -towner’s I guess.   -K.D’Angelo

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