E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Anthocharis stella stella Boisduval, Rambur, Duméril & Graslin, [1833]
Orangetips; Stella's Orangetip
Family: Pieridae (Whites, Marbles, and Sulphurs)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC
Photo of species

© Ian Gardiner  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5857)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Anthocharis stella stella in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information


Stella's Orangetips are small white (males) or yellow (almost all females) butterflies with orange wing tips. In males, the middle of the black bar across the base of the orange wing tip is displaced towards the wing tip, rather than connecting smoothly with the black rectangle at the end of the discal cell. This black bar usually fades to grey in the middle. The ventral hindwing marbling is yellow green, and usually appears smudged. In populations along the eastern side of the Cascades, the black bar is more strongly developed, at first looking similar to that in Sara's Orangetip. The bend in the bar is still present, however, although less obvious because of its increased width, and the ventral markings are still typical of Stella's Orangetip. Occasional males or females have a row of black spots along the margin of the upperside of the hindwing.

Immature Stages



The nominate subspecies occurs in BC (TL: Marlette Peak, Washoe Co., NV).

Genus Description

The name Anthocharis is derived from the Greek anthos (flower) and kharis (grace), either because the butterflies have the grace of a flower or because they lend grace to the flowers they frequent (Emmet 1991). The common name "The Orange-tip" was first used for A. cardamines (Linnaeus) in Britain in 1747-49 (Emmet 1990a). The name was later extended to the entire genus, and was first used for the genus in North America by Scudder (1875). The common name refers to the orange or yellow apex of the dorsal forewings of most species in the genus.

Orangetips are similar to marbles, but the tips of the forewings are orange in most species. Male orangetips are usually white, occasionally pale yellow, with black and red orange markings. Females range from white to rich yellow, with black and pale orange markings. There are about 18 species in the genus.

Two species of orangetips occur in BC, as suggested by Layberry et al. (1998). Research in California (Geiger and Shapiro 1986) showed that what has traditionally been treated as the species Anthocharis sara is actually a group of closely related species. Their electrophoretic data indicated that three "subspecies" of Sara's Orangetip are all separate species, Anthocharis sara Lucas, 1852; A. stella W.H. Edwards, 1879; and A. julia W.H. Edwards, 1872. Opler (1999) recognizes a fourth species in this group, Anthocharis thoosa (Scudder, 1878).

Two of these four species occur in BC: Sara's Orangetip (Anthocharis sara) on the coast and Stella's Orangetip (Anthocharis stella) in the interior. They occur nearly sympatrically on the west side of the Cascade Mountains on Mount Cheam, west of Hope. Sara's Orangetip occurs at the bottom of the mountain in the coastal forest, and Stella's Orangetip occurs in the alpine. More sampling is required to determine whether they occur together in any habitat.


Stella's Orangetips have one generation each year, and fly from April to June at low elevations. At high elevations they fly in July and August. The larvae feed on Arabis species in the Southern Interior and Pine Pass, BC (CSG).


Stella's Orangetips inhabit forest openings and meadows from valley bottoms to subalpine habitats. They prefer partly wooded or brushy areas to completely open meadows. They occur across the Southern Interior of BC, and north to near Chetwynd. The only population on the west side of the Cascade Mountains is near the summit of Mount Cheam, west of Hope.



Stella's Orangetips occur almost entirely east of the coastal mountain ranges of BC, from north-central BC and western AB south to WY and the Sierra Nevada Mountains of CA and NV.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2022-05-19 12:01:45 PM]
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