Small White (Early Stages)

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Vince Massimo
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Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:51 pm

Edit- This post was updated with additional photos of egg and early larval stages on 18th October 2012, 7th September 2013 and 12th September 2016. A full pupation sequence was added on 14th November 2013 and a further update, including an emergence sequence, was added on 12th July 2017


There are generally 2 generations each year, with 3 generations in good years. Second brood adults have noticeably darker markings that those of the first brood. The Small White can be a pest to brassica crops, but not to the extent of its cousin, the Large White. This is partly due to it laying its eggs singly. The primary larval foodplants are Crucifers (various) and Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus). Charlock (Sinapis arvensis), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Hoary Cress (Lepidium draba), Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) and Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea) are also used.

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Small White ovum (freshly laid on Hairy Bittercress) - Caterham, Surrey 29-July-2012

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Small White ovum on Garlic Mustard - Caterham, Surrey 21-Aug-2013

However females will often place several eggs on the same leaf, or a favoured location may be visited by several females.

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14 Small White ova on Nasturtium - Caterham, Surrey 31-July-2013

Eggs hatch within a 7-10 days and a pale larva emerges, pausing briefly to eat part or all of the eggshell.

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Small White larva (1st instar) - Caterham, Surrey 5-Aug-2012

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Small White larvae (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 17-Sept-2017

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Small White larva (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 13-Sept-2017

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Small White larva (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 17-Sept-2017

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Small white larva (1st instar pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 15-Sept-2017

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Small White larva (newly emerged 2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 16-Sept-2017

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Small White larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 17-Sept-2017

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Small White larva (2nd instar) - Caterham, Surrey 10-Aug-2012

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Small White larva (2nd instar) - Caterham, Surrey 10-Aug-2012

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Small White larva (post-moult 3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 13-Sept-2016

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Small White larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 20-Sept-2017

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Small White larva (pre-moult 3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 10-Sept-2016

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Small White larva (post-moult 4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 10-Sept-2016

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Small White larva (4th instar, eating old larval skin) - Crawley, Sussex 10-Sept-2016

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Small White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 11-Sept-2016

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Small White larva (pre-moult 4th instar) - Caterham, Surrey 10-Aug-2013

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Small White larva (post moult 5th instar) - Caterham, Surrey 10-Aug-2013

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Small White larva (5th instar) - Caterham, Surrey 18-Aug-2012

In the summer of 2010 I decided to grow some salad crops in pots in a sunny spot outside the back door. On the very day that the first crop of Wild Rocket (Eruca Sativa) was due to be taken, I watched as a female Small White laid approximately 10 eggs on it. I was not expecting this to happen, because I did not know that Rocket was a larval foodplant, but it is in the Brassica family, so it makes sense. The affected plants were re-potted and allowed to grow on separately. Two weeks later I finally spotted a number of larvae, but such was the effectiveness if their camouflage, that they were already 1cm long. Once I had got my eye in, I spotted some more on nearby Garlic Mustard plants. Other food plants utilised by these larvae in my garden over the following years have included Hairy Bittercress, (Cardamine hirsuta), Nasturtium, Radish, Alyssum (Alyssum montanum) and Scented Stocks (Matthiola sp).

The yellow line along the back of the larvae, which distinguishes them from the Green-veined White, does not always show up very clearly, but a careful check of an individual segment will be conclusive .

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Small White larval segments (flank)

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Green-veined White larval segments (flank)

All larvae were allowed to develop naturally, until they were large enough to pupate, when I put them into separate pots with food and twigs. The vast majority of the 2010 batch and all of those reared in 2013 chose to pupate upside down on a horizontal surface, (attached by a central silken girdle and a pad of silk at the base). All photos however are shown the opposite way round, for photogenic reasons (and because that is how they appear in books).

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Small White larva preparing to pupate - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White larva pupating - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White larva completing pupation - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White pupa discarding larval skin - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White pupa (fresh)- Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White pupa (1 hour old) - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small white pupa (3 hours old) - Caterham, Surrey 2-Nov-2013

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Small White pupa (15 hours old) - Caterham, Surrey 3-Nov-2013

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Small White pupa (8 days old) - Caterham, Surrey 10-Nov-2013

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Small White pupa (48 hours before emergence) - Caterham, Surrey 1-May-2014

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Small White pupa (23 hours before emergence) - Caterham, Surrey 2-May-2014

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Small White pupa (4 hours before emergence) - Caterham, Surrey 3-May-2014

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Small White pupa (1 hour before emergence) - Caterham, Surrey 3-May-2014

That was the development of the green form of pupa. The other type is the grey/brown form.

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Pre-pupation larva - Crawley, Sussex 27-Sept-2016

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Small White pupa - Crawley, Sussex 11-Oct-2016

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Small White pupa (15 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 8-May-2017

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Small White emerging - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White emerging - Cawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White emerging - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White emerging - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White emerging - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White emerging - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White emerging - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White (male) emerging - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White (female) expanding wings - Crawley, Sussex 9-May-2017

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Small White female (third brood) newly emerged 30-Aug-2010


Notes and Observations

In 2010 one of the larva found on Garlic Mustard transferred itself to Wild Rocket, which was overhanging from a nearby pot and continued to feed and develop normally. Further eggs were laid during the late summer of 2010, giving a succession of larvae and pupae. The time between pupation and emergence was 8 or 9 days and the last emergence was on 30th August. However nothing that pupated after 23rd August emerged that year, but they overwintered sucessfully.

In April 2014 an overwintering pupa was found to be parasitised. A fly grub emerged, pupating nearby and an adult Tachinid fly emerged on 30th April. This was identified as Epicampocera succincta by the Natural History Museum.

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Small White pupa with parasitic fly pupa - Caterham, Surrey 14-April-2014

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Small White pupa and Epicampocera succincta - Caterham, Surrey 30-April-2014

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Parasitic fly Epicampocera succincta - Caterham, Surrey 30-April-2014





Vince
Last edited by Vince Massimo on Sun Sep 26, 2010 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Neil Hulme
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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Neil Hulme » Fri Sep 24, 2010 1:17 pm

Hi Vince,
Good stuff! Some very nice piccies there.
Neil

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Pete Eeles » Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:14 pm

Seconded - wonderful commitment and observations!

Cheers,

- Pete

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Dave McCormick » Fri Oct 01, 2010 2:59 pm

Ditto, great images and observation!
Cheers all,
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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:11 pm

Thank you all for your kind comments. I aim to complete the series of photos in the Spring by documenting the final development of the larva that pupated on the twig.

I have also been working on a series of Orange Tip photos (larva and pupa), which will also be completed in the Spring. I am particularly interested to see how these develop, as I have never observed a pupa of this species in the hours before hatching.

Vince.

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Dave McCormick » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:35 pm

I have also been working on a series of Orange Tip photos (larva and pupa), which will also be completed in the Spring. I am particularly interested to see how these develop, as I have never observed a pupa of this species in the hours before hatching.


I am doing the same, never saw one hatch either but would like to and I am going to set up a time lapse near to when it hatches to capture the moment using a remote to get it (my last pupae died and don't want this to happen either). Be good to see your images when time comes, probably be better than mine.
Cheers all,
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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Sun May 08, 2011 8:43 pm

Here is a final update on this item. I have been waiting for over 8 months for a particular pupa to mature and hatch in order to complete a full sequence of images for one individual.

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Small White larva (awaiting pupation) 22-Aug-2010

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Small White pupa (brown form) 24-Aug-2010

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Small White pupa (brown form) 24-Aug-2010

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Small White pupa (1 day before emergence) 5-May-2011

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Small White pupa (8 hours before emergence) 6-May-2011

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Small White pupa (2 hours before emergence) 6-May-2011

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empty Small White pupal case


The female that hatched had already dried her wings and was ready to fly by the time I realised she had emerged, so she was released without any photos being taken.

Vince
Last edited by Vince Massimo on Sun May 08, 2011 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Dave McCormick » Sun May 08, 2011 9:22 pm

Some more very nice images, well captured.
Cheers all,
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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:01 am

Thanks for the comment Dave. This year has been very different, with no larvae in the garden at all (except the ever-reliable Orange Tip), despite growing a varied number of foodplants. Not even a sniff of a Large White on my Nasturtiums :(

Vince

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Gibster » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:49 pm

Oh Vince...I could cry for you, mate!

It's still a stunning piece of work though, and you did very well with the Orange-tip sequence. Well, lets face it, they were simply brilliant.

So...better luck next time???

Cheers.

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:34 am

Shed no tears for me, Mr. G, it's the butterflies we should be concerned about. I'm sure they will bounce back, and as long as there are people out there who care about these things, all should be well :D

Cheers,
Vince

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:46 am

The original post from September 2010 has now been updated with additional photos of eggs and early larval stages, together with a full pupation sequence . Representative images of adults are now gradually being included into all of my early-stages reports in order to complete the life cycle story. Other reports can be accessed here: viewforum.php?f=37

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Small White male (Spring Brood) - Caterham, Surrey 5-May-2013

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Small White male (Summer Brood) - Caterham, Surrey 1-Sept-2013

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Small White female (Spring Brood) - Crawley, Sussex 17-April-2007

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Small White female (Summer Brood) - Caterham, Surrey 22-Sept-2012

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Small White male (Summer Brood) - Crawley, Sussex 3-Aug-2010

I hope to finally capture a hatching sequence for this species next Spring :)

Vince

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Nick Broomer » Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:08 pm

Just brilliant, Vince.

All the best, Nick.

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Re: Small White (Early Stages)

Postby Vince Massimo » Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:17 pm

Thanks Nick :) .

Looking forward to seeing the results of some of your projects soon.

Vince


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