Brimstone - Gonepteryx rhamni


Family: Pieridae

Flight Time: June-August and Spring after hibernation.

Size: 52-60mm

Altitude: 0-2500m


Often the first Butterfly to be seen after the winter. Its bright yellow colour has given rise that it could have given rise to the word butterfly, i.e. derived from butter(-coloured) fly. Alternatively "u" was "you", anything else like a short u (uh) was oe with umlauts...  The word butterfly said in old english would have been byout-erfly, e.g. beaut-er fly, beautiful fly. Make more sense?

The female, pictured above is paler, but still with the leaf shaped wing.

In Europe there are two other species, the cleopatra, Gonepteryx cleopatra with its orange colouration and the Powdered brimstone, Gonepteryx farinosa with two colour wings.

Male underside


Fact File

Similar Species Foodplants Habitat Distribution


Buckthorn (Rhamnus)

Bushy, lightly wooded areas.


Change map to  


Early Stages


Brimstone ovum.    


© All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.