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Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

On this page, we have made available all the information we have for this species

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Picture of Brimstone
© Nick Greatorex-Davies

The Brimstone is a relatively mobile species typical of woodland, hedgerows, gardens and other scrubby places in southern Britain and parts of Ireland. It breeds in Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus) in sunny situations and is currently expanding its range in Britain.(For further details on this species see

Family : Pieridae

Status : Stable

Status details :
Status since 1976 is Stable with a increase of 11%
Status over the last 20 years is Stable with a increase of 28%
Status over the last 10 years is Stable with a increase of 88%

Log collated index plot

Species Log Collated Index Plot

This chart shows the index of abundance (LCI = Log Collated Index) over time. It shows fluctuations in populations from year to year, and is scaled so that the average index over the whole series is equal to 2 (horizontal line). For greater detail about how this index is derived, click on the green question mark above.

Trend description :
The data show no significant trend in either the spring or summer/autumn flights, though the negative trend for the summer/autumn flight is nearly significant. The Brimstone shows one of the most stable population trends since monitoring began of any species monitored. Some sites showed an increase during the 1980s followed by a decline, especially sites in eastern England.

This map shows the distribution between 1995 and 2016. Data is derived from the Butterflies for the New Millenium dataset via the NBN Gateway

Phenology plot
Species Phenology Plot

Phenology plot

This chart shows the average number of butterflies seen on transects between Arpil and October across all sites (fitted values from a Generalised Additive Model). The blue line gives average counts over the full BMS series (1976 to date) and the red line gives the average for the last year.

Species abundance map


This map shows symbols for the mean abundance at transect sites, with the colour of the symbol reflecting the level of abundance. Means are over all years. Grey background squares are the occupied cells as shown by the Butterflies for the New Millenium over the previous ten year period.


In total, Brimstone has been recorded from 775 transects in the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Of these, annual indices of abundance have been calculated from 854 sites, with an average index of 27 individuals per site.

For 422 of these sites, Brimstone has been recorded well enough to calculate annual indices of abundance in more years, allowing trends to be calculated.

In 2019, 16611 individuals were recorded from 481 sites, producing annual indices at 306 of these.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is organized and funded by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The UKBMS is indebted to all volunteers who contribute data to the scheme.