Cryptic Wood White

Leptidea juvernica (lep-TID-ee-uh joo-VUR-nee-cuh)

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-26
Photo © Pete Eeles
 

Wingspan
42mm

Checklist Number
58.002

Family:PieridaeSwainson, 1820
Subfamily:DismorphiinaeSchatz, 1887
Tribe:LeptideiniVerity, 1947
Genus:LeptideaBillberg, 1820
Subgenus:  
Species:juvernicaWilliams, 1946

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Introduction

This is our most recently-discovered butterfly, being almost identical to the Wood White and originally described as Réal's Wood White. However, in 2011 Réal's Wood White was itself split, resulting in another new species - the Cryptic Wood White, a species that is found across Ireland with the exception of the Burren. This species share many characteristics with the Wood White, in terms of both appearance and behaviour. Like the Wood White, adults always rest with their wings closed although, in flight, the male can be distinguished from the female by a black spot at the tip of the forewings that is greatly reduced in the female. This species is only found in Ireland in the British Isles, where it is widespread. Current evidence suggests that there is no overlap in distribution between the Wood White and Cryptic Wood White; the Wood White being confined to areas of the Burren limestone district in Clare and South-east Galway in the west of Ireland.

Leptidea juvernica

This species was first defined in Williams (1946) (type locality: Ireland).

Although more analysis needs to be done, it is suspected that (like its close relative, the Wood White) males of any summer brood have darker wing spots than those of the spring brood, whose spots are greyer in colour, and that females of any summer brood are slightly smaller than those of the spring brood.

Male

Cryptic Wood White - male - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-2

Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Female

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-23

Female Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album ...


History

Description to be completed.

Conservation Status

The relatively-recent discovery of this butterfly as a separate species from the Wood White has led to difficulties in understanding its true status. However, based on historical evidence, it is believed that this butterfly has been lost from south County Cork, north County Dublin and County Meath. In Northern Ireland, this butterfly is considered a priority species.

UK BAP StatusOccurrence Change
1976-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
1976-2014 (%)
Occurrence Change
2005-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
2005-2014 (%)
Not ListedInsufficient DataInsufficient Data
Decrease-23
Insufficient Data

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

Unlike the Wood White, this butterfly is found in more-open habitats, such as scrubby grassland, abandoned quarries, hedgerows and roadside verges. Foodplants include various vetches and trefoils.

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

Adults fly throughout May and into the first half of June. There may be a partial second brood in good years.

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

Males can be found patrolling for females, rarely stopping to rest or feed, especially in sunny weather. On dull days, the butterfly will rest on the underside of a leaf with its wings closed and, when disturbed, will fly into thick undergrowth. Like the Wood White, the courtship of this butterfly is an amazing spectacle. Male and female face each other with wings closed and intermittently flash open their wings. At the same time, the male waves his proboscis and white-tipped antennae either side of the female's head. If the female is receptive to these signals, the female bends her abdomen toward the male and the pair mate, staying coupled for around 30 minutes.

Adults feed primarily on Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and Vetches (Vicia spp.) are also used.

Leptidea juvernica

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Reals Wood White - imago - nr Craigavon, County Armagh - 12-Jun-06 [Graham Smith]

Photo © Graham Smith

Reals Wood White - imago - nr Craigavon, County Armagh - 12-Jun-06 (6) [Graham Smith]

Photo © Graham Smith

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-21

Photo © Pete Eeles

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-26

Photo © Pete Eeles

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-18

Photo © Pete Eeles

Reals Wood White - imago - Montiaghs Moss - 28-May-07 (2) [Allan Sumner]

Photo © Allan Sumner

Cryptic Wood White - female - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-6

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes - 04-Jun-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
04-Jun-2015

Cryptic Wood White - male - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - female - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-4

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-15

Photo © Pete Eeles

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-25

Photo © Pete Eeles

Reals Wood White - imago - Rosslare, Wexford - Unknown date [Adrian Riley]

Photo © Adrian Riley

Cryptic Wood White - male - Craigavon Lakes - 04-Jun-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
04-Jun-2015

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-22

Photo © Pete Eeles

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-20

Photo © Pete Eeles

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-23

Photo © Pete Eeles

Cryptic Wood White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-24

Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album (31 photos) ...


Ovum

Eggs are laid singly on the underside of a leaf, on sheltered plants. They are yellowish-white, skittle-shaped and hatch after about 2 weeks.

Cryptic Wood White - ovum - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Cryptic Wood White - ovum - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-5

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - ovum - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-6

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - ovum - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-7

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - ovum - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-8

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-May-2014

Cryptic Wood White - ovum - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-May-2014

Photo Album (6 photos) ...


Larva

The superbly-camouflaged larva feeds by first eating the tips of the finest shoots, before working its way down the plant. The larva moults 4 times in total.

The primary larval foodplants are Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Bitter Vetch (Lathyrus linifolius), Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus), Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis) and Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca).

Cryptic Wood White - larva - Thatcham - 16-Jun-14 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
16-Jun-2014

Cryptic Wood White - larva - Thatcham - 24-Jun-14 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Jun-2014

Cryptic Wood White - larva - Thatcham - 26-Jun-14 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
26-Jun-2014

Photo Album (3 photos) ...


1st Instar

Description to be completed.

2nd Instar

Description to be completed.

3rd Instar

Description to be completed.

4th Instar

Description to be completed.

Cryptic Wood White - larva - Thatcham - 01-Jul-14 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
01-Jul-2014

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


5th Instar

Description to be completed.

Cryptic Wood White - larva - Thatcham - 09-Jul-14 [REARED]-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Jul-2014

Cryptic Wood White - larva - Thatcham - 09-Jul-14 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Jul-2014

Photo Album (2 photos) ...


Pupa

The pupa is primarily green, with the wing edges and veins coloured a beautiful pink. It is attached to the stem by a silken girdle and the cremaster. This species hibernates as a pupa.

Cryptic Wood White - pupa - Thatcham - 19-Jul-14 [REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
19-Jul-2014

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

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

Similar Species

Wood White

The Cryptic Wood White and Wood White can only be differentiated by a detailed examination of their genitalia.

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References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Billberg (1820) Billberg, G.J. (1820) Enumeratio insectorum in Museo.
Schatz (1887) Schatz, E. (1887) Die Familien und Gattungen der Tagfalter systematisch und analytisch bearbeitet.
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).
Verity (1947) Verity, R. (1947) Le Farfalle diurne d'Italia.
Williams (1946) Williams, H. (1946) The Irish form of Leptidea sinapis. The Entomologist.