Anthocharis sara
Sara Orangetip

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name: Western Orange Tip.
Note: Some authors consider this to be a complex of subspecies, including sara, stella, julia, and thoosa. Others split out several of the subspecies, considering them instead to be independent species of Orangetips, and consider Anthocharis sara to be a more strictly defined species occurring only along the Pacific coast.
Caterpillar: The caterpillar is green and marked with a stripe of white bordered by green on both sides. It is covered with short black hair.
Adult: The butterfly has a wingspan of 1 1/4 to 1 7/8 inches. The upperside is yellowish white to white. At the tip of the forewing is a large orange patch, outlined in black; the patch is smaller in females than in males. The border of the wings may be spotted with black. Underneath, the forewing is marked similarly to above, but paler; the hindwing is mottled with greenish brown and white.

This species ranges from Alaska south to southern California, east to the eastern side of the Rockies, and south through New Mexico. It occurs through most of Idaho.

The Sara Orangetip can be found in a variety of open places, such as meadows, fields, ridge tops, canyons, and deserts.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars feed on members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), including cresses (Arabis spp.), tumble mustard (Sisymbrium spp.) and tansy mustard (Descurainia spp.). Young caterpillars eat leaves while older ones feed on flowers and fruits.
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar.

There is usually one generation of caterpillars during the summer. Pupae overwinter in a physiological state called diapause. There may be two generations in some locations in California, in which case only the second overwinters. Adults generally fly from March through July. Butterflies typically fly close to the ground and close to vegetation.

Males actively patrol valleys for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on various parts of host plants, typically towards the top of the plant.

Idaho Status: Unprotected nongame species.
Global Rank:

G5; populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ferris, C. D. and F. M. Brown. (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. (Version 05Nov98).

Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies.   Second Edition.  Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.

Pyle, R. M. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, USA, 924 pp.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.

Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.