Gonepteryx rhamni


One of the joys of spring is watching a fluttering Brimstone alight on a flower on a sunny day - one of the first signs that the seasons are changing. A fairly large, pale yellow butterfly, Brimstone adults hibernate through cold weather, so may be seen flying on warm days throughout the year, although they are most common in the spring. Usually seen in ones or twos, they are never very common but are widespread. They can be found in damp woodlands, along sunny, woodland rides, mature hedgerows and in large gardens. The foodplants of the larvae are Buckthorn and Alder Buckthorn, two shrubs that both occur on  wet woodland, while buckthorn also occurs also on dry chalk and limestone soils.

How to identify

The Brimstone is a large, lemon-yellow butterfly (the female looks greenish-white) with a greyish body and characteristically pointed wings. Females have orange spots in the middle of each wing. Always rests with wings closed.

Where to find it

Across most of England and Wales.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Butterflies such as the Brimstone will happily visit your garden and are a joy to watch. To attract butterflies into your garden, plant nectar-rich borders for them to feed along and climbing Ivy and shrubs for overwintering insects. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Gonepteryx rhamni
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan: 5.2-6cm
Conservation status