Orange-tip butterfly emergence

The first image shows the chrysalis ready to split – you can already see the orange colour of the wings through the transparent casing. 

In the second image, the butterfly is free, but its wings are tiny and floppy.

In the next two images the wings are gradually expanded by liquid pumped through the veins, which then solidifies to make the wings rigid and capable of flight.

Then it’s up, up and away to mate, lay eggs and produce the caterpillars of the next generation.’


The pretty little Orange-tip butterfly is one of the first to emerge each Spring, and from mid-April they can be seen all over the Commons. The process of a caterpillar turning into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly is one of the miracles of the natural world, but rarely seen, as it happens in secret, and usually very early in the morning. However, it can occasionally be captured on camera, and the images above show something of how it works. It takes about 30 minutes for the butterfly to escape from its chrysalis and pump up its wings ready for flight.