This is an extremely scarce immigrant to the British Isles and, in some years, is not seen at all. However, on occasion, it does appear in large numbers, such as the great immigration of 1945. The first specimen was recorded in the British Isles in the late 17th century. Between 1850 and 1939 there were very few records, with only a few years reaching double figures. The exception was 1906 when several hundred were supposedly seen on the cliffs at Durdle Door, Dorset, although these records are considered suspect. The great years for this species, however, were between 1944 and 1950, with over 700 seen in 1945, mostly in Cornwall. This species has been extremely scarce ever since with less than 20 individuals recorded since 1952. It is believed that this species cannot survive our winter although some offspring resulting from the 1945 invasion may have survived into the following year. In the British Isles the species was potentially capable of producing 2 or 3 broods in good years.
The butterfly was originally known as “Vernon’s Half Mourner” after the first recognised capture by William Vernon in Cambridgeshire in May 1702, although earlier records are now known. However, the common name of this butterfly comes from a piece of needlework that figures this species, supposedly showing a specimen taken in or near Bath in 1795, and the name seems to have “stuck”. This species is a rare migrant to the British Isles. Although most records come from the south coast of England, this species has been reported as far north as Lincolnshire and Yorkshire in England, and also in County Wexford, south east Ireland (a record from 1893).
Ochsenheimer (1808) described the spring generation of P. daplidice as f. bellidice. The nominate form, f. daplidice, is used to describe the summer generation.
This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Southern Europe and Africa).
Adults are typically seen in the British Isles in July, August and September.
This species prefers open habitats of any kind and, on the continent, will even breed on derelict sites.
The primary larval foodplants are Crucifers (various) (Cruciferae family (various)) and Mignonettes (various) (Reseda spp.). Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Sea Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum) and Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea) are also used.
Description to be completed
This is a highly mobile species, the last mass immigration occurring in 1945. Given the similarity of this species to other, more-common, whites, it is probably overlooked and therefore under-recorded.
Description to be completed.
Eggs are laid singly on the foodplant and are yellow-green when first laid, gradually turning orange. Eggs found in the British Isles in 1945 were laid on the flower heads of Wild Mignonette, Hedge Mustard and Sea Radish. Eggs hatch in approximately a week.
The larva feeds during both day and night and this stage typically lasts between 3 and 4 weeks.
The pupa is often formed on stems of the foodplant, but also away from the foodplant on fences, buildings or other flat surfaces. The pupa is supported by a silk girdle and the cremaster.
Description to be completed.
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The species description provided here references the following publications:
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