Large White

Pieris brassicae (PEE-err-iss BRA-si-ky)

Large White female - Caterham, Surrey 29-April-2014
Photo © Vince Massimo
 

Wingspan
Male: 58mm
Female: 63mm

Checklist Number
58.006

Family:PieridaeSwainson, 1820
Subfamily:PierinaeDuponchel, 1835
Tribe:PieriniSwainson, 1820
Genus:PierisSchrank, 1801
Subgenus:  
Species:brassicae(Linnaeus, 1758)

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Introduction

The Large White is one of two species (the other being the Small White) that can claim the title of "Cabbage White" that is the bane of allotment holders all over the British Isles. The larva of this species can reach pest proportions, and decimate cabbages to the point that they become mere skeletons of their former selves. The female is distinguished from the male by the presence of 2 black spots, together with a black dash, on the forewing upperside. This is one of the most widespread species found in the British Isles and can be found almost anywhere, including Orkney and Shetland. This species is also known to migrate to the British Isles from the continent, augmenting the resident population in the process.

Taxonomy Notes

Stephens (1827) is responsible for the naming of f. chariclea to describe the spring brood, although it was originally a name attributed to a new species, closely related to P. brassicae. According to Goodson & Read (1969), the name is, without question, given to a description of the spring generation of P. brassicae. f. brassicae, the nominate form, is then used to describe the summer generation.

In describing P. chariclea, Stephens makes comparisons with P. brassicae: "The chief points of discrimination between this species [P. chariclea] and the preceding insect [P. brassicae] consist in its inferior size, the dissimilar colour of the apical spot on the anterior wings above, and the integrity of its inner edge, the pale cilia with which it is fringed, and the deeper colour, and more thickly irrorated under surface of the posterior wings: which characters, taken collectively, appear fully sufficient to warrant its separation as a species, exclusively of its period of flight".

Stephens goes on to make some misinformed hypotheses of how P. chariclea could simply represent the spring brood of P. brassicae: "Now, if it be a vernal [spring] brood of Po. Brassicae alone, by what process do the colour and the shape of the markings become changed? and whence its inferior size? The first question has been answered, at least so far as regards the colour, upon the supposition that the solar rays are not sufficiently powerful at the period when the insect is produced, to produce the intense hue so conspicuous in the supposed aestival [summer] brood ... With respect to the other question - the inferiority of size - that has been answered upon the presumption that the animal diminishes in bulk from the increased period that it is supposed to continue in the pupa; that is, from September to April: whereas the aestival brood remains in that state a few days only".

Pieris brassicae

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Sweden).

Males of the spring brood have greyer wingtips than those of the summer brood. Similarly, females of the spring brood are lighter in colour than those of the summer brood, which have very pronounced black markings.

Spring Brood

Large White (m) (spring brood) Harmondsworth Moor Middlesex 2nd June 2013

Male
Photo © millerd

Large White Male - First Brood, Crawley, Sussex 21-April-06

Male Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

Large White female - Caterham, Surrey 28-April-2014

Female
Photo © Vince Massimo

Large White female - Chaldon, Surrey 6-June-2010

Female Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Large White-Newdigate Surrey-30.08.2014

Male
Photo © Buchan Boy

Large White - Martin Down - 8 Aug 2010

Male Underside
Photo © Clive

Large White Female (Second Brood) - Crawley, Sussex 17-Sept-08

Female
Photo © Vince Massimo

Large White (female), Ebernoe (29 July 2011)

Female Underside
Photo © Mark Colvin

Photo Album ...


History

The table below shows a chronology of vernacular names attributed to this species. Any qualification of the name (e.g. male, female) is shown in brackets after the name.

YearNameReference
1703Greater White Cabbage-ButterflyPetiver (1702-1706)
1717Great Female Cabbage ButterflyPetiver (1717)
1720Great White Butter-flyAlbin (1720)
1749Large White Garden ButterflyWilkes (1749)
1769Great White Cabbage-ButterflyBerkenhout (1769)
1803Large WhiteHaworth (1803)
1819Large CabbageSamouelle (1819)
1832Large White Cabbage ButterflyBrown (1832)
1832CabbageRennie (1832)
1896Large Cabbage White ButterflyKirby (1896)

Conservation Status

Despite a slight decline in its fortunes, this widespread and common butterfly is not currently a species of conservation concern.

UK BAP StatusOccurrence Change
1976-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
1976-2014 (%)
Occurrence Change
2005-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
2005-2014 (%)
Not Listed
Stable-3
Decrease-30
Stable+2
Decrease-28

The table above shows the occurrence (distribution) and abundance (population) trends, using information from The State of the UK's Butterflies 2015 (Fox, 2015). Any UK BAP status is taken from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).

Habitat

This species is found in a wide variety of habitats and can turn up almost anywhere, including gardens, allotments, parks, meadows, open grassland, and hedgerows.

Distribution

 

Click here to see the distribution of this species or here to see the distribution of this species together with specific site information overlaid.

Life Cycle

This butterfly normally has 2 broods each year, and there is often a 3rd brood. The first brood emerges in April, with a peak in May. In typical years, their offspring emerge in July and fly through August and into early September.

The chart(s) above have been correlated with the phenology plot below, taken from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The blue line gives average counts over the full data set from 1976 to date, and the red line gives the average for the last year.

 

Imago

The Large White has a powerful flight and is able to migrate over large distances. It is one of our most widespread species, and a common sight in gardens throughout the British Isles.

Adults feed primarily on Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.). Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Carline Thistle (Carlina vulgaris), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis), Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Sanfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) and Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) are also used.

Pieris brassicae

Spring Brood

Large White - 18/05/13 - Somerset

Photo © William
18-May-2013

Large White female (reared) - Caterham, Surrey 11-May-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-May-2012

Large White male - Solihull West Midlands 25.04.2015

Photo © Neil Freeman
25-Apr-2015

Large White female - Caterham, Surrey 28-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Apr-2014

Large White - Solihull West Midlands 12.06.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
12-Jun-2013

Large White (m)(u)(spring brood) Stanwell Moor Middlesex 26th May 2013

Photo © millerd
26-May-2013

Large White ovipositing (5 eggs), Shoreham, West Sussex, 8 June 2013

Photo © Colin Knight
08-Jun-2013

Large White Male - First Brood, Crawley, Sussex 21-April-06

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Apr-2006

Large White female, Kilvey Hill, Swansea, 4th May 2013

Photo © David M
04-May-2013

Large White female - Chaldon, Surrey 6-June-2010

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Jun-2010

Large White (f) (u) Harmondsworth Moor Middlesex 2nd June 2013

Photo © millerd
02-Jun-2013

Large White (m) (spring brood) Harmondsworth Moor Middlesex 2nd June 2013

Photo © millerd
02-Jun-2013

Large White - imago - Strumpshaw Fen - 07-Jun-05

Photo © Pete Eeles
07-Jun-2005

Large White - Brockham Quarry,Surrey - 10.05.2015

Photo © Buchan Boy
09-May-2015

Large White (m) (spring brood) Stanwell Moor Middlesex 13th May 2013

Photo © millerd
12-May-2013

Large White - female - Thatcham - 15-May-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-May-2015

Large White male, Danygraig Cemetery, Swansea, 26th April 2015

Photo © David M

Large White - imago - Thatcham - 13-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Large White male - spring brood - Landford Lavander Farm - 13-05-2017

Photo © Wurzel

Large White female and male (reared and released) - Caterham, Surrey 8-May-12

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-May-2012

Photo Album (24 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Large White egglaying, Shropshire 13-Aug-2013

Photo © Debbie
The leaf had twisted so that the underside was uppermost. The female adopted this position to lay.

Large White-Newdigate Surrey-30.08.2014

Photo © Buchan Boy
29-Aug-2014

Large Whites - Males Pursuing a Female - Somerset - 06/08/13

Photo © William
06-Aug-2013

Large Whites, Oxenbourne Down, 27/07/2013

Photo © Pauline
27-Jul-2013

Large White - imago - Ballard Down - 17-Jul-06 (0475)

Photo © Pete Eeles
21-Jul-2006

Large White - imago - East Lulworth - 22-Sep-12

Photo © Pete Eeles

Large White - Kingston Lacey - 22-09-2013

Photo © Wurzel
22-Sep-2013

Large White - Martin Down - 8 Aug 2010

Photo © Clive
08-Aug-2010

Large White female - Steyning, Sussex 22-Sept-2012

Photo © Neil Hulme
22-Sep-2012

Large White - Solihull West Midlands 30.07.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
30-Jul-2013

Large White - Aberaeron - 02-08-2016

Photo © Wurzel

Large White female - Dorset 6-Aug-2009

Photo © Zonda
06-Aug-2009

Large White - Oxfordshire - 23rd - July - 2014

Photo © Maximus
23-Jul-2014

Large White Female (Second Brood) - Crawley, Sussex 17-Sept-08

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-Sep-2008

Large White - Shadowbrook Meadows Solihull 26.07.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
26-Jul-2013

Large White ovipositing on nasturtium - Caterham, Surrey 23-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Aug-2013

Large White - Female - Ovipositing - Somerset - 30/08/13

Photo © William
30-Aug-2013

Large White, Darland Banks, Gillingham, Kent. 16/7/16.

Photo © Testudo Man
Large White, Darland Banks, Gillingham, Kent.

Large White - Castle Hills, Solihull 11.07.2015

Photo © Neil Freeman
11-Jul-2015

Large White - female - Stockbridge Down - 06-Aug-13

Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Aug-2013

Photo Album (44 photos) ...


Ovum

The yellow skittle-shaped eggs are laid on both surfaces of a leaf, in groups of 40 or so, and often up to 100 - laid at a rate of 4 per minute. Each egg is laid directly on the foodplant (rather than on top of other eggs) and also abuts other eggs, resulting in an organised egg mass. An individual female may lay up to 600 eggs in total. The eggs hatch in a week or two, depending on temperature.

"This butterfly lays its eggs on many kinds of cruciferous plants, such as cultivated cabbages, mustard, turnips, radish and cress, especially the common garden Tropeeolum major [Nasturtium], in the months of May and June and again in August and early September. The eggs are laid on both surfaces of the leaves in groups varying from about forty to one hundred in a group. On August 3rd, 1903, a female brassicae was observed during an interval of bright sunshine (during stormy weather) fluttering over a bed of cabbages. After a few minutes it settled on the upper side of one of the leaves, closed its wings and commenced depositing. The eggs are laid at regular intervals of ten seconds between each, the actual time of deposition of each egg is four seconds. After each egg is laid the abdomen is raised and hidden between the closed wings for ten seconds; the whole process for depositing each egg occupies fourteen seconds. This individual remained for just half an hour on the leaf without moving her position, during which time about one hundred eggs were laid in a group — a single layer laid neatly packed side by side all in one plane. On May 30th, 1909, a captive female enclosed on a small cabbage plant laid a group of forty-one eggs on the underside of one of the leaves; these hatched on June 16th, remaining seventeen days in the egg state, this long period being due to the continuous cold weather from June 2nd, while other eggs laid on August 10th hatched early on the morning of August 15th, being in the egg state only four and a half days owing to the exceptionally warm weather, making a difference of twelve and a half days in the time occupied by the two broods as influenced by the temperature. The egg as laid stands erect, it is 1.21 mm. high; the shape is elliptical with an elongated apex, which is granular at the extreme point. There are from seventeen to nineteen fine longitudinal keels running from the crown to the base, the intervening spaces are concave and transversely fluted by about forty fine ribs. When first laid the colour is a rich cream-yellow, but to the naked eye the whole batch appear bright primrose-yellow, making them very conspicuous when on the upper surface of a dark green cabbage leaf. When three days old the colour is a clear citrine-yellow, the crown whitish and semi-transparent; they remain the same colour until about thirty hours before hatching, when they become opaque with a leaden-coloured crown, caused by the dark head of the larva showing through the shell; they then remain unchanged until hatching." - Frohawk (1924)

Large White Ova (hours from hatching) - Dunwich, Suffolk 8-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2011

Large White ova (surviving larval feeding damage) - Crawley, Sussex 2-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Sep-2017

fresh Large White ova on Nasturtium 26-July-2016

Photo © Tony Moore
62 files stacked with Zerene Stacker.
26-Jul-2016

Large White ova (open cluster) - Crawley, Sussex 26-April-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Aug-2017

Large White Ova - Dunwich, Suffolk 5-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Sep-2011

Large White - ovum - Thatcham - 14-May-07 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
14-May-2007

Large White ova (open cluster) - Crawley, Sussex 26-April-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Aug-2017

Large White - ovum - Thatcham - 24-Jul-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Jul-2016

Large White ova on Pea - just laid - 4th - August - 2013

Photo © Maximus
04-Aug-2013

Large White, Liphook, 27/07/2013

Photo © Pauline
27-Jul-2013

Large White Eggs

Photo © Gary.N
9 images stacked manually (30+hrs to Blend together)

Large White ova with freshly hatched larva on Black Kale - Somerset 27-Aug-2012

Photo © William

Large White ova - Crawley, Sussex 18-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Aug-2017

Large White Ovum

Photo © andy brown

Large white

Photo © andy brown
10 Image Stack

Large White - ovum - Thatcham - 14-May-07 (4) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
14-May-2007

Large White - ovum - Thatcham - 24-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Jul-2014

Large White ova (fresh) - Crawley, Sussex 29-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Aug-2017

Large White Ova (with larvae) - Dunwich, Suffolk 8-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2011

Large White Ova (with larvae) - Dunwich, Suffolk 5-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
A Small White egg is also visible (left of centre)
05-Sep-2011

Photo Album (21 photos) ...


Larva

The larva eats its eggshell on hatching and is gregarious, feeding alongside its siblings until fully-grown. The larvae accumulate poisonous oils in their bodies as they feed, which explains why would-be predators are deterred from feeding on such visible larvae. Unlike our other "cabbage white", the Small White, the larvae of the Large White prefer to feed on the outer leaves of the foodplant, whereas the larvae of the Small White prefer to feed on leaves closer to the heart of the foodplant. The larva has 4 moults in total.

This species is particularly vulnerable to a parasitic ichneumon fly, Apanteles glomeratus, which deposits its eggs inside young larvae. The fly larvae feed on the insides of their host, avoiding vital organs, and, when their host is full-grown, break through the skin and pupate within yellow cocoons on or near their host.

The primary larval foodplant is Crucifers (various) (Cruciferae family (various)). Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea) are also used.

Latge White Caterpillars - Mountstewart, Co Down, Northern Ireland 7-Sept-2009

Photo © Dave McCormick
07-Sep-2009

Large White larvae (1st and 2nd instars) - Crawley, Sussex 2-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd and 3rd instars) - Crawley, Sussex 4-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd and 3rd instars) - Crawley, Sussex 17-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-Aug-2017

Photo Album (4 photos) ...


1st Instar

"The young larvae upon emerging eat the empty shells, leaving only the base, which forms their first meal; they then spin a fine layer of silk over the surface of the leaf and live thereon, and feed in company, eating first the cuticle of one side only, but after a short time they perforate the whole substance. They usually rest side by side closely packed together. Shortly after emergence the larva measures 2.12 mm. in length. The head is shining black, bearing a few simple white hairs of various lengths. The body is fairly cylindrical, the segments are sub-divided in the centre and rather bulbous along the lateral ridge. It is of a pale greenish-ochreous, very glossy and smooth over the entire dorsal surface; below the spiracles the surface is covered with minute black points developed into short bristles ventrally. There are six rows of black and yellow tubercles, each on a brown disc and bearing a moderately long fine simple hair curving forwards, the tip of which is slightly clubbed. The spiracles are brown. On each segment below the spiracle are two olive-grey discs forming a lateral series, each having a fine long white sharply-pointed bristle, and on the ventral lobe of each segment is a larger disc of similar colour bearing two shorter bristles. On the first segment are two transverse sub-dorsal discs and a larger medio-dorsal disc on the anal segment; the legs and claspers are dusky." - Frohawk (1924)

Large White - larva - Thatcham - 18-May-07 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
18-May-2007

Large White - larva - Thatcham - 18-May-07 (4) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
18-May-2007

Large White - First Instar Larvae on Black Kale - Somerset 26-Aug-2012

Photo © William

Large White Larvae hatching - Dunwich, Suffolk 8-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2011

Large White Larvae hatching - Dunwich, Suffolk 7-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Sep-2011

Large White larvae (6 days old) - Caterham, Surrey 21-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Sep-2011

Large White Larvae - Dunwich, Suffolk 5-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Sep-2011

Large White larvae, Liphook, (reared) 27/07/2013

Photo © Pauline
27-Jul-2013

Large White, Liphook, (reared) 27/07/2013

Photo © Pauline
27-Jul-2013

599A9472

Photo © andy brown

Large White larvae - Hampshire 12-Aug-2017

Photo © andy brown

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Sep-2017

Large White larvae 1st instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 6-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Sep-2017

Large White larvae 1st instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 1-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Aug-2017

Large White larvae 1st instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 13-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 13-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 1-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 1-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 31-Jul-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
31-Jul-2017

Large White larvae (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 30-Jul-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jul-2017

Photo Album (20 photos) ...


2nd Instar

"First moult June 17th, the eggs hatched June 8th, 1909. Before second moult, fourteen days old, the larva measures 6.35 mm. long. The ground colour is light greenish-yellow, a medio-dorsal line lemon-yellow. The body is sprinkled with black, shining, conical tubercles of various sizes, each emitting a simple, finely-pointed, slightly-curved hair, the longer are white, the shorter black. The largest tubercles with white hairs are on the dorsal region and form longitudinal series, the first bordering the medio-dorsal stripe. On the first three segments they are large and form transverse bands darkening the segments; the spiracular stripe is yellow and with only small tubercles. The spiracles are small and black; head, legs and anal shield also black. The body is covered with minute black points; the claspers being black and yellow." - Frohawk (1924)

Large White Caterpillars - Durham

Photo © Mandie

Large White larvae (12 days old) - Caterham, Surrey 27-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
27-Sep-2011

Large White - larva - Thatcham - 24-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Jul-2014

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 16-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
16-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 15-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 14-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Aug-2017

Large White larvae 2nd instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 4-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Aug-2017

Large White larvae 2nd instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 4-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 5-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 4-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 4-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 5-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 3-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 3-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Aug-2017

Large White larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 2-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 2-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 2-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Aug-2017

Photo Album (17 photos) ...


3rd Instar

"Second moult June 22nd, 1909. Before third moult, eighteen days old, the larva is 8.5 mm. long. It is similar to the previous stage excepting that the whole colouring is clearer and brighter. They still feed and rest in company, lying side by side." - Frohawk (1924)

Large White larva (14 days old) - Caterham, Surrey 29-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Sep-2011

Large White - larva - Thatcham - 13-Aug-12 (1) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Large White larvae (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 18-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 5-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Aug-2017

Large White larvae 3rd instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 6-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 6-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Aug-2017

Large White larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 7-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 6-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 6-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Aug-2017

Photo Album (9 photos) ...


4th Instar

"Fixed for third moult June 26th and moulted following day. Before fourth moult it measures 19 mm. long. In all respects it resembles the previous stage and is still gregarious. Some fixed for fourth moult July 1st." - Frohawk (1924)

Large White - larva - Fleet - 16-Jun-06 (2) [Colin Baker]

Photo © Colin Baker

Large White - larva - Fleet - 16-Jun-06 [Colin Baker]

Photo © Colin Baker

Large White larvae and Small White larva, Hog Wood (9 October 2011)

Photo © Mark Colvin
09-Oct-2011

Large White larva 4th instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 11-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-Aug-2017

Large White larva 4th instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 10-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Aug-2017

Large White larva 4th instar (pre moult) - Crawley, Sussex 10-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Aug-2017

Large White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 11-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-Aug-2017

Large White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 10-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Aug-2017

Large White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Aug-2017

Large White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Aug-2017

Large White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Aug-2017

Large White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Aug-2017

IMG_3969-01G 4th

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Aug-2017

Large White larva 4th instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Aug-2017

Large White larvae (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 7-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Aug-2017

Large White larva 4th instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Aug-2017

Large White larva 4th instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Aug-2017

Large White larva 4th instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Aug-2017

Photo Album (19 photos) ...


5th Instar

"Fourth and last moult July 2nd, 1909. After fourth and last moult, fully grown, the larva measures 41.3 mm. long. The body is almost cylindrical, being only slightly attenuated at the ends. The middle segments have six sub-divisions, the first two on each segment being the largest; over the whole surface of the body are transverse series of shining black, short, pointed tubercles, each situated on a conspicuous black blotch, the largest being placed on the second sub-division above the spiracle; the others are of various sizes and some are extremely small, only visible under a lens, but each one bears in proportion to its size a hair, some are white and others black, all are simple, finely-pointed and mostly slightly curved. The tubercles on the anterior sub-division of the first segment are large and glistening black, and the anal segment has a large dorsal shining black disc which resembles the head. The head is black with a light-grey patch on each side of the crown and a pale yellow clypeus; it is covered with black points emitting hairs, similar to the body. The colouring of the body is a grey-green, darkest on the dorsal half, with three gamboge-yellow longitudinal stripes, one medio-dorsal, and a spiracular one on each side, the edges of these stripes are ill-defined and blend into the ground colour. The ventral surface is greenish-ochreous, the claspers amber-ochreous and blotched with brown. The black points are situated on olive-brown spots, below the spiracles, the latter being flesh-colour outlined with dark-brown, but very inconspicuous. The whole surface is finely granular; each grain has an exceedingly minute point. The legs are black and yellow. Below the spiracles the surface is covered with white hairs only. The larvae have a curious habit of all resting and feeding at the same time; although they spread out over the plant, for some reason they all feed at once. In this their last stage they do not spin webs over the leaves. The first larva spun up for pupation on July 8th, having been feeding for just thirty days, and pupated on the 10th, followed by all the others on the following two days." - Frohawk (1924)

Large White larva 5th instar (newly moulted) - Crawley, Sussex 12-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Aug-2017

Large White larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 14-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Aug-2017

Large White larva (6 hours before pupation) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2017

Large White - larva - Forton, Somerset - 3 July 09 [Adrian Dexter]

Photo © Adrian Dexter
03-Jul-2009

Large White - larva - Thatcham - 09-Jun-07 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Jun-2007

Large White larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 13-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Aug-2017

Large White larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 15-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Aug-2017

Large White larva 5th instar (post moult) - Crawley, Sussex 29-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Aug-2017

Large White - larva - Thatcham - 01-Sep-12

Photo © Pete Eeles

Large White larvae (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 14-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Aug-2017

Large and Small White Larvae on Garlic Mustard - Somerset - 25/08/13

Photo © William
25-Aug-2013

Large White larva - Caterham, Surrey 15-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Aug-2013

Large White larva (parasitised) - Horton Heath, Hants. 29th Aug 2014

Photo © andy brown

Large White larva (parasitised) - Surrey - 22nd - Sept. - 2014

Photo © Maximus
22-Sep-2014

Large White larva (preparing to pupate) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Sep-2017

Large White larva preparing to pupate - Caterham, Surrey 24-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-Aug-2013

Large White larva - Caterham, Surrey 15-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Aug-2013

Large White larva (final instar) - Caterham, Surrey 12-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Sep-2011

Large White larva (commencing pupation) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2017

Large White larva (preparing to pupate) - Caterham, Surrey 23-Oct-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Oct-2011

Photo Album (25 photos) ...


Pupa

After wandering for some time, the larva finds a suitable pupation site that is typically away from the foodplant, such as fences, tree trunks, and under any overhang on a building, such as its eaves. The pupa is attached by a silk girdle and the cremaster. This stage lasts around 2 weeks for pupae that produce the summer brood. This stage lasts around 8 months for pupae which overwinter and that produce the spring brood.

"The fully-grown larvae select various places for pupation; the most usual being under some ledge, such as the copings of walls, palings or woodwork of sheds and other timber buildings, when the pupa is attached in a horizontal position. Often it is fixed upright on window frames or tree trunks in proximity to the food plant. The larvae of the summer broods often pupate upon the leaves and stems of their food plants when they are normally green, and exactly assimilate in colour to their environment. The pupa measures 25.4 mm. long. It is well proportioned and angular on the dorsal surface. Side view : The head is beaked in front, the thorax angulatcd by a central dorsal keel indented at each thoracic division. The keel is continued along the abdomen, recommencing on the fourth abdominal segment; the abdomen is attenuated and terminates in a long cremaster furnished with hooks; the ventral outline is slightly curved at either end; the sub-dorsal keel is strongly bi-angular above the inner angle of the wing, the keel then runs in a lateral course to the anal segment. The colouring varies considerably, as it greatly depends upon the surrounding colour of the object upon which it is attached. The normal ground colour is ivory white, or white delicately tinged with pale greenish-ochreous; the whole surface is speckled, blotched and reticulated with black; the point of the beak and dorsal keel variegated with yellow; the spiracles also yellow; the thorax and abdomen are densely sprinkled with extremely minute warts, each emitting an equally minute hair; the warts are sunk in minute black depressions which are so small that they only appear as black specks under a lens. The largest black markings form longitudinal series chiefly along the dorsal keels; the wings are reticulated, speckled and splashed with black; the antennae are checkered black and white. The entire surface is covered with exceedingly minute granulations somewhat resembling lizard skin. When the pupa is attached to the food plant, it is more or less of a green colour to harmonize with the surroundings. The green form is usually only sparsely speckled with black and is generally greenish over the anterior half; it is variegated with yellow similar to the white form. It is attached by a silken cincture round the middle and by the cremastral hooks to a pad of silk. The first imago emerged on July 24th, 1909, followed by all the others on the two following days; remaining in the pupal state fourteen days. The larvae which hatched August 15th, 1909, pupated during the first few days of September." - Frohawk (1924)

Large White completing pupation - Caterham, Surrey 24-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-Aug-2013

Large White Pupa (grey form) - Caterham, Surrey 4-April-12

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Apr-2012

Lagre White Pupae (Female) - Bred in captivity Mountstewart, Co Down, Northern Ireland 19-July-2009

Photo © Dave McCormick
19-Jul-2009

Large White Pupa, female (36 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 12-May-12

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-May-2012

Large White Pupa (cream form) - Caterham, Surrey 7-Oct-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Oct-2011

Large White male emerging - Caterham, Surrey 26-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Apr-2014

Large White Pupa (freshly emerged) - Caterham, Surrey 23-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Sep-2011

Large White male (48 hours before emergence) - Caterham, Surrey 24-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-Apr-2014

Large White pupa (2.5 hours old) - Crawley, Sussex 8-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2017

Large White Pupa, male (6 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 9-May-12

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2012

Large White pupa (24 hours old) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Sep-2017

Large White pupa (6 days old) - Caterham, Surrey 30-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Aug-2013

Large White pupation - Crawley, Sussex 8-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2017

Large White pupation - Crawley, Sussex 8-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2017

Large White pupa (shedding larval skin) - Caterham, Surrey 24-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-Aug-2013

Large White Pupa, female (9 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 13-May-12

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-May-2012

Large White male (25 minutes before emergence) - Caterham, Surrey 26-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
26-Apr-2014

Large White pupa 17/4/15

Photo © andy brown
17-Apr-2015

Large White male (24 hours before emergence) - Caterham, Surrey 25-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
25-Apr-2014

Large White pupation - Crawley, Sussex 8-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-Sep-2017

Photo Album (66 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

Green-veined White

Description to be completed.

Small White

In general, the Large White and Small White can be distinguished based on size. However, there are occasions when a "small" Large White flying with a "large" Small White causes confusion. In terms of uppersides, a distinguishing feature is the black marking at the apex of the forewing. This is generally more vertical than horizontal in the Large White, and more horizontal than vertical in the Small White.


Large White (left) and Small White (right)

Distinguishing these two species based on their underside is a little more difficult. Aside from size, there is sometimes a hint of the upperside markings where, again, those at the apex of the forewing can give an indication of the species.


Large White (left) and Small White (right)

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The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Albin (1720) Albin, E. (1720) A Natural History of English Insects: Illustrated with a Hundred Copper Plates, Curiously Engraven from the Life.
Berkenhout (1769) Berkenhout, J. (1769) Outlines of the Natural History of Great Britain and Ireland (Vol.1 Animal Kingdom).
Brown (1832) Brown, T. (1832) The book of butterflies, sphinxes and moths.
Duponchel (1835) Duponchel, P.A.J. (1835) Histoire naturelle des lépidoptères ou papillons de France, par M. J.-B. Godart. Continuée par P.-A.-J. Duponchel. Diurnes. Supplément aux tomes premier et deuxième.
Frohawk (1924) Frohawk, F.W. (1924) The Natural History of British Butterflies.
Goodson & Read (1969) Goodson, A.L. and Read. D.K. (1969) Aberrational and Subspecific Forms of British Lepidoptera (unpublished work, British Museum of Natural History) .
Haworth (1803) Haworth, A.H. (1803) Lepidoptera Britannica.
Kirby (1896) Kirby, W.F. (1896) A Hand-Book to the Order Lepidoptera.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Petiver (1702-1706) Petiver, J. (1702-1706) Gazophylacii naturae et artis decas prima.
Petiver (1717) Petiver, J. (1717) Papilionum Britanniae Icones.
Rennie (1832) Rennie, J. (1832) A conspectus of the butterflies and moths found in Britain, with their English and systematic names, times of appearances, sizes, colours, their caterpillars, and various localities.
Samouelle (1819) Samouelle, G. (1819) The Entomologist's Useful Compendium.
Schrank (1801) Schrank, F. (1801) Fauna boica. Durchgedachte Geschichte der in Baiern einheimschen und zahmen Thiere.
Stephens (1827) Stephens, J.E. (1827) Illustrations of British Entomology (Haustellata Vol.1).
Swainson (1820) Swainson, W. (1820) Zoological illustrations, or Original figures and descriptions of new, rare, or interesting animals : selected chiefly from the classes of ornithology, entomology, and conchology, and arranged on the principles of Cuvier and other modern zoologists (Vol.1).
Wilkes (1749) Wilkes, B. (1749) The English moths and butterflies: together with the plants, flowers and fruits whereon they feed, and are usually found.