The eggs are deposited on Rhamnaceae such as Rhamnus species and especially Frangula alnus.
Gonepteryx rhamni inhabits forests of all types, exceptionally also in open land (as imago). Occasionally, the butterfly also reproduces in parks, gardens and bushy grasslands. I found caterpillars in rocky grasslands at low growing Rhamnus catharticus and in suburban gardens. In the mountains Gonepteryx rhamni occurs only in the lower elevations up to about 1300m above sea level, but is rarely found even higher on the search for nectar plants.
Gonepteryx rhamni hibernates as a adult free in the vegetation (Rubus fruticosus, ivy, grasses etc.) and is active again at the end of February on mild, sunny days. The adults fly until June and lay eggs from about mid-April. The caterpillars are found from May to July preferably on low bushes. The resulting adults fly again from July to August. In September, they are often already in hibernation rest. In winter you can observe butterflies for example in blackberry stocks, but not too rare also remnants of the pupal skins that had been attached to branches of the host plant in summer.
Gonepteryx rhamni is widespread, common and not threatened. Gonepteryx rhamni is only locally in decline due to forest management (darkening of forests due to dense afforestations and single tree selection) and also in forest-poor regions.
The distribution ranges from Northwest Africa across much of Europe to Mongolia.