Also known as the “Cabbage White”, this is Britain’s largest white butterfly. The male upper side is mainly white with dark-tipped forewings. The female is similar except it has two large black dots in the centre of the forewing and black streaks on the rear edge, and they are somewhat smaller in size. Wingspan 65mm. Similar to the Small White (Pieris rapae).
The caterpillar feeds mainly on cultivated brassicas, Nasturtiums, wild crucifers, and wild Mignonette. It can cause serious damage to cabbages and other brassica crops. They are distasteful to predators such as birds, yet the braconid wasp Apanteles glomeratus lays eggs within the caterpillar and the resulting grubs eat their way through it. The Large White was introduced to Australia in the 1930s and soon became a serious pest, but the introduction of Apanteles quickly eliminated the butterfly. The pupae are also attacked by the tiny chalcid wasp Pteromalus puparum.
The adult flies April to October in two to three broods. Found in all types of flowery places, especially gardens and cultivated land. Common and resident Many migrants from continental Europe reinforce our numbers.
Photographs taken August 2006, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2006. Camera Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1.