Sara (Pacific) Orangetip   Anthocharis sara

Status:  common resident

Flights:  1-2, Feb-Jun; 2nd flight partial

Distribution/known sites in Monterey County:  countywide; Carmel Valley Rd., Old Stage Rd., Toro Park, Bradley, Parkfield

Habitats:  fields, lots, orchards, roadsides, desert hills

Host plants:  native and exotic mustards; milkmaids

Adult food:  brief stops at flowers like host mustards, thistles, fiddleneck, and brodiaeas

Conservation:  none required


  1.   species complex of many pops. in west, about 9 named ssp.

  2.   may be several spp., but intergrades occur

  3.   treated recently as 4 ssp. based on chemical studies, ours is Pacific orangetip

  4. 2nd generation (’sara” form) sporadic, usually in wetter years, May-Jun

  5. spring brood form: “Reakirt’s orangetip”

  6.   male white, female white/pale yellow with lighter orange tip set off from edge by pale area; 2nd brood larger, less strongly marked; regional forms exist

  7.   male’s orange tip is UV reflective, looks purple to fem.; fem. tip looks orange (absorbs UV), thus can sex each other in flight

Life history facts

egg: laid singly near tops of host plants

larva: young feed on flower buds, older eat flowers and fruits

pupa: hibernate

adult:  males do not hilltop, patrol foothill canyon slopes, stream bottoms, washes, mtn. meadows for receptive females; flight direct, side-to-side, orange tips visible

pfeiffer big sur, 3-7-07