Green-veined White

Pieris napi (PEE-err-iss NAY-py)

Green-veined White male - Solihull West Midlands 12.05.2014
Photo © Neil Freeman
 

Wingspan
40 - 52mm

Checklist Number
58.008

Family:PieridaeSwainson, 1820
Subfamily:PierinaeDuponchel, 1835
Tribe:PieriniSwainson, 1820
Genus:PierisSchrank, 1801
Subgenus:  
Species:napi(Linnaeus, 1758)
Subspecies:sabellicae (Stephens, 1827)
 britannica Müller & Kautz, 1939
 thomsoni Warren, 1968

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Introduction

This is a common butterfly of damp grassland and woodland rides and is often mistaken for its cousin, the Small White. It can be found from spring through to autumn in parks and gardens, as well as less-urban areas such as meadows and woodland rides. The so-called green veins on the underside of the adults are, in fact, an illusion created by a subtle combination of yellow and black scales. This is one of the most widespread species found in the British Isles and can be found almost everywhere although it is absent from Shetland and areas of the Scottish Highlands. It is also a highly-variable species and populations have been distinguished based on an analysis of androconial scales as documented in Warren (1967), Warren (1968), Thomson (1970b) and other articles.

Taxonomy Notes

Esper (1777) described the summer generation of P. napi as f. napaeae, the figure for which shows a very plain hindwing underside, with subdued markings and only a small amount of yellow. The nominate form, f. napi, is used to describe the spring generation. Similarly, Müller & Kautz (1939) described the spring generation of the Irish subspecies, ssp. britannica, as f. britannica using the name f. irica for the summer generation.

Pieris napi ssp. napi

The species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Sweden). The nominate subspecies has not been recorded in the British Isles.

Pieris napi ssp. sabellicae

This subspecies was first defined in Stephens (1827) as shown here and as shown in this plate (type locality: England).

This subspecies is found in England and Wales. However, in the north of England and southern Scotland, there is no clear dividing line between the distribution of this subspecies and that of the subspecies thomsoni. Bowden (1975) considers the name sabellicae to be redundant, suggesting septentrionalis Verity (1916) (type-locality Westcliff-on-sea) instead. Dennis (1977) also questions the name: "The southern English race is superficially very similar to samples from the Continent, and the slight differences evidenced in its smaller size, brighter yellow underside and reduced seasonal dimorphism could well be part of environmental variation, as was indeed indicated by rearing Tuscany napi in Durham (Verity 1916). This, together with the marked seasonal dimorphism and microgeographical variation between adjacent localities makes these names [sabellicae, vulgaris] inapplicable".

Spring brood males have very feint markings and often lack the single spot on each forewing, whereas summer brood males have more pronounced markings. Spring brood females, on the other hand, are generally more heavily marked than their offspring, especially on the forewings. In both sexes, summer brood adults are generally larger than those of the spring brood.

Pieris napi ssp. sabellicae (Stephens, 1827)

Sabellicae. Plate III. f.3,♂. - f.4.♀. - Alis suprà albidis basi nigricante, utrinquè fuscescente-venosis; subtus anticis apice, posticis paginâ omni flavescentibus. (Exp. alar. 1 unc. 7-10 lin.)

Pa. Sabellicae. Petiver, pl.1. f.17,18, ♂. - f.15,16, ♀. - Po.Sabellicae. Steph. Catal.

Allied to Po. Napi, but dissimilar in form, the wings being shorter and more rounded; the anterior being nearly of the form of those of Po. Cardamines,- it has the upper surface of all the wings of a yellowish-white, with broad dusky irrorated nervures; broadest towards the hinder margin : the male has the base of the anterior wings and a single irregular spot in the fourth marginal cell dusky, and the female the base and tips of the same wings, a spot in the fourth and sixth marginal cells, and the inner edge of the wings of the same colour : both sexes have a similarly coloured spot on the upper margin of the posterior wings above. Beneath, all the wings are adorned with very broad dusky nervures, resembling those in var. [zeta: Dilated nervures of the posterior wings beneath dusky in both sexes] of Po. Napi, but varying in different specimens; and the dilated nervure on the upper edge of the discoidal cell is destitute of the insulated yellow spot, which every specimen of Po. Napi that has passed under my examination possesses.

Spring Brood

Green-veined White male - Solihull West Midlands 09.05.2015

Male
Photo © Neil Freeman

Green-veined White - imago - Thatcham - 12-May-13

Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White female - Norfolk Estate, Sussex 14-April-2011

Female
Photo © Neil Hulme

Green Veined White Female (First Brood) - Crawley, Sussex 27-April-06

Female Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Green-veined White male - Grafton Wood 24.08.2013

Male
Photo © Neil Freeman

Green-veined White (male), Steyning (22 August 2011)

Male Underside
Photo © Mark Colvin

Green-veined white female summer brood - Oversley Wood 21.07.2012

Female
Photo © Neil Freeman

Green-veined White (female), Steyning (22 August 2011)

Female Underside
Photo © Mark Colvin

Photo Album ...


Pieris napi ssp. britannica

This subspecies was first defined in Müller & Kautz (1939) (type locality: Ireland).

This subspecies is found throughout Ireland, where it is common, as well as parts of Scotland, as confirmed by Verity (1905-1911), Verity (1916) and Bowden (1970). Chalmers-Hunt (1970) extends the distribution to the Isle of Man. This subspecies exhibits differences between spring and summer broods, as described for the subspecies sabellicae. This subspecies differs from the subspecies sabellicae as follows:

  • 1. It is smaller in size.
  • 2. The black markings are more intense. According to Ford (1945) "The black scaling is particularly pronounced and the spots on the fore-wings of the females not infrequently tend to coalesce into a band. Moreover, the white areas are generally rather cream-coloured".
  • 3. On the underside, the veins have a light grey border.
  • 4. The undersides of the hindwings have a superb yellow colour.
  • 5. There are fewer differences between the spring and summer generations.

Pieris napi ssp. britannica (Müller & Kautz, 1939)

The description of this subspecies is included within an extensive German text that runs to several pages. The intent of the definition is as follows:

A pre-ice age, "tertiary napi", moved into the British Isles and survived the ice age. After the ice age, continental napi moved back into the British Isles while the land bridge was still open and bred with the tertiary napi in the south. "Pure" tertiary napi remained in Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, there is a dark form in Scotland and Northern Ireland, a lighter, "mixed" form in the rest of the British Isles, and napi proper, on the continent. Verity apparently identified the southern mixed form as napi and the northern forms as britannica.

In their description, Müller & Kautz refer to the definition given by Verity (1905-1911) which is reproduced below.

Original (French)

Ayant vu de grandes séries de cette espèce provenant d'Irlande et d'Ecosse, j'ai pu me persuader qu'il existe dans ces pays une race bien distincte (Pl. XXXII, fig.4 et 6), charactérisée par sa petite taille, l'intensité des dessins noir, les nervures bordées légèrement de gris aussi sur les antérieures en dessous, la superbe teinte jaune des postérieures en dessous, la différence moins marquée des générations etc.; je la nommerai donc britannica; la première génération en Angleterre diffère peu de cette forme.

Translation

Having seen large series of this species from Ireland and Scotland, I am persuaded that a clearly distinct race exists in these countries (Pl. XXXII, figs. 4 and 6), characterised by its small size, the intensity of the black markings, the veins lightly bordered in grey on the undersides of the forewings as well, the superb yellow colour of the hindwing undersides, the less marked difference between the generations &c.; I will therefore call it britannica; the first generation in England differs little from this form.

Spring Brood

Green-Veined White - Male Upperside 26/04/2007, Mountstewart, Co Down, Northern Ireland

Male
Photo © Dave McCormick

Male Underside

Green-veined White ssp. britannica - female -Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14

Female
Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White ssp. britannica - female -Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-3

Female Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Male

Male Underside

Green-veined White - female - North Bull Island, Dublin - 09-Aug-13-50

Female
Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White - female - North Bull Island, Dublin - 09-Aug-13-62

Female Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album ...


Pieris napi ssp. thomsoni

This subspecies was first defined in Warren (1968) as shown here (type locality: Sheriffmuir, West Perthshire).

This subspecies is found in Scotland, with most records coming from a belt between Argyllshire in the west and Fifeshire and East Lothian in the south-east. Another stronghold is the Thurso district of Caithness. In southern Scotland and in the north of England, there is no clear dividing line between the distribution of this subspecies and that of the subspecies sabellicae. This subspecies also exhibits differences between spring and summer broods, as described for the subspecies sabellicae. Aldwell & Smyth (2015) note that "In Donegal the range colour is extensive and some specimens seem closer to the Scottish form".

This subspecies exhibits minor colour differences with the subspecies sabellicae as follows:

  • 1. On the upperside, the veins of the forewings, and sometimes hindwings, are heavily suffused with black. This is especially true in the female.
  • 2. On the underside of the hindwings, a small proportion of adults have a yellow, rather than white, ground colour, which may be tinged with orange. This is especially true in the female.
  • 3. The underside is generally darker, with the dark scaling on the veins appearing more black than grey.

Dennis & Shreeve (1996) make an interesting assertion when listing thomsoni: "probably = britannica".

Pieris napi ssp. thomsoni (Warren, 1968)

Turning to the superficial features of the Scottish race, the most conspicuous are of course the markings of the females. The majority of these are of the form described as radiata in P. bryoniae by Röber. In this the nervures of the forewings, and sometimes hindwings also, on the upperside are outlined in black, lightly or heavily. In the Scottish race many have the areas between the nervures also suffused with black. They most often have a white ground-colour and a few specimens can resemble P. napi exactly. Some however (estimated at about 25% by Mr. Thomson), have a yellow ground-colour. In these the dark suffusion can occur as in the white specimens. The yellow colour is not that of the well-known Irish yellow specimens (as illustrated by Müller and Kautz 1939 [Müller & Kautz (1939)], plate 1, figs. 5,6), but close that that of the flavescens form of P. bryoniae (as Müller and Kautz [Müller & Kautz (1939)], plate 5, figs. 7, or between that and fig. 6). All these female forms are of course characteristic of P. adalwinda, though they do not habitually occur in one locality. They concur with the characters of the scales connecting the Scottish race with P. adalwinda.

A further character connecting with P. adalwinda is the colouring of the under side. This mostly is darker than in normal P. napi, the dark scaling on the nervures is more black than grey. There is also a not infrequent tendency for the marking on the hindwing to spread on each side of the nervures, especially on the basal half of the wing. The ground-colour is often a deeper yellow, especially in the females, with a tinge of orange, somewhat as in the figure given by Müller and Kautz [Müller & Kautz (1939)] (pl. 10, fig. 4). These features are normal to P. adalwinda, but like all other characters, very variable in thomsoni. It is impossible to leave this race under the obliterating name P. napi. It is a fluctuating race of P. adalwinda and must have a distinctive name. Müller and Kautz (1939) [Müller & Kautz (1939)], used the name "britannica" Vty. for it. Fortunately that misleading title is ruled out, for the types of britannica, which are in the Oberthür collection, came from the south of Ireland. The Irish race, though different from that of England, is certainly a race of P. napi. It is Mr. Thomson's work and observations that rescued this unique race from oblivion, so I am naming it P. adalwinda subsp. thomsoni n. subsp. The male holotype and female allotype and one male and female paratype (the latter being a yellow one), are from Sheriffmuir, Dunblane, Perthshire, at 600 feet altitude; and one male and one female paratype from Dunblane at 200 feet altitude, all in the Thomson collection; and 11 paratypes in the author's collection, of which two males and four females come from the Carron Valley, Stirlingshire, two males and two females from the Kilsyth Hills, Stirlingshire, and one female from St. Andrews, Fifeshire.

Spring Brood

Green-veined White male - Westhill, (near Aberdeen) 1-June-2014 [Ken McHardy]

Male
Photo © Ken McHardy

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-14-4

Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-Veined White - imago - Loch Cre - Unknown date [Adrian Riley]

Female
Photo © Adrian Riley

Female Underside

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Green-veined White male - Forvie Sands, Newburgh, Aberdeenshire 26-July-2014 [Ken McHardy]

Male
Photo © Ken McHardy

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14-6

Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White - female - Glasdrum Wood - 17-Aug-15

Female
Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - female - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 18-Jul-14-2

Female Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

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
1699Common White Veined ButterflyPetiver (1695-1703)
1717Lesser, White, Veined Butterfly (male, spring brood)Petiver (1717)
1717Common White Veined Butterfly with Single Spots (male, summer brood)Petiver (1717)
1717Common White Veined Butterfly with Double Spots (female)Petiver (1717)
1720Green Vein'd ButterflyAlbin (1720)
1749White Butterfly with Green VeinsWilkes (1749)
1795Green-veined WhiteLewin (1795)
1832NavewRennie (1832)

Conservation Status

This is the most widespread butterfly in the British Isles and its status is considered relative-stable. It is not, therefore, 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+5
Stable-7
Stable-1
Large Increase+72

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

The butterfly can be found in a variety of locations, including parks, gardens, meadows, woodland rides, hedgerows and, in fact, anywhere foodplants and nectar sources exist. This species favours damp areas but can also be found in small sheltered pockets, such as patches of scrub, in dry and open habitat such as chalk grassland.

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

First-brood adults typically emerge in late April, peaking around the middle of May and gradually tailing off through June. The second brood, which is always stronger than the first brood, starts to emerge in early July. However, in good years, the second brood may emerge in late June and give rise to a third brood.

Pieris napi ssp. sabellicae

Pieris napi ssp. britannica

Pieris napi ssp. thomsoni

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

As in most species, the males emerge a few days earlier than the females, and spend much of their time searching for a mate as they fly along woodland rides and hedgerows. As well as taking nectar, males may also be seen congregating on mud or other surfaces that are rich in nutrients, giving rise to the phenomenon known as "mud puddling".

As in many whites, an already-mated female will indicate an unwillingness to mate by holding her wings flat and her abdomen upright, making it impossible for a male to mate with her. However, this doesn't always work, and females have been known to mate more than once, although this is completely unnecessary for the fertilisation of the eggs.

Adults feed primarily on Betony (Stachys officinalis), Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Red Campion (Silene dioica), Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.) and Vetches (Vicia spp.).

Pieris napi ssp. sabellicae

Spring Brood

Green-veined-White- 5D39362 Notts April 2014

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined-White- 5D30056 Notts April 2014

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined White male - Solihull West Midlands 24.04.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
24-Apr-2014

Green-veined-White- 5D30989 Notts May 2013

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined White male, Springhead Hill, Sussex 7-May-2012

Photo © Neil Hulme
07-May-2012

Green-veined White - imago - Nr. Stockbridge Down - 22-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White Ovipositing - Surrey - 21st - April - 2014

Photo © Maximus
21-Apr-2014

Green-veined White male (freshly emerged) - Caterham, Surrey 19-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2014

Green - Veined Whites - Somerset - 03/05/14

Photo © William
03-May-2014

Green-veined White male (first brood) - Addington, Surrey 21-May-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-May-2012

Green-veined white spring brood female - Solihull West Midlands 15.05.2015

Photo © Neil Freeman
15-May-2015

Green-veined White, Wiston Church, Sussex 19-April-2015

Photo © Neil Hulme
19-Apr-2015

Green-veined White - 18-05-2014 - Upton Country Park

Photo © Wurzel

Green-veined white, 16 May 2013, Wrecclesham

Photo © Pauline
16-May-2013

Green-veined White female - Norfolk Estate, Sussex 14-April-2011

Photo © Neil Hulme
15-Apr-2011

Green-veined White male - Solihull West Midlands 12.05.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
12-May-2014

Green-veined White - imago - Thatcham - 18-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White male first brood - Solihull 26.05.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
26-May-2013

Green-veined White female (1st brood) - Crawley, Sussex 17-May-06

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-May-2006

GVW, Longmoor, 18/04/2014

Photo © Pauline
18-Apr-2014

Photo Album (72 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Green-veined-White- 5D39132 Lincoln Aug 2013

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined-White Lincoln 14 August 2011- 03C9501

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined White male - Solihull 14.07.16

Photo © Neil Freeman
14-Jul-2016

Green-veined White female (third brood) - Stanwell Moor (Middx) 19 Nov 2011

Photo © millerd
19-Nov-2011

Green Veined Whites 'puddling' at Tunstall Reservoir 24-July-2014.

Photo © Michael A
24-Jul-2014

Green-veined White male - Solihull West Midlands 11.09.2015

Photo © Neil Freeman
11-Sep-2015

Green-veined White - imago - Stockbridge Down - 20-Jul-10 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jul-2010

Green-veined White male - Grafton Wood 24.08.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
24-Aug-2013

Green Veined White Pair (Second Brood) - Woldingham, Surrey 30-June-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Jun-2011

Green-veined White (mating pair) Stanwell Moor Middlesex 27th August 2015

Photo © millerd
27-Aug-2015

Green-veined-White- 5D39321 Lincoln Aug 2013

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined-White Lincoln 4 Sept 2010- 03C6490

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined-White Lincoln 6 August 2011- 03C6088

Photo © IainLeach

Green-veined-White- 5D38586 Lincoln Aug 2013

Photo © IainLeach

Green Veined White Female (Summer Brood - Reared) - Caterham, Surrey 6-July-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Jul-2010

Green-veined White Female (Third Brood) - Chaldon, Surrey 15-Sept-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Sep-2011

Green-veined white female summer brood - Oversley Wood 21.07.2012

Photo © Neil Freeman
21-Jul-2012

Green-veined White

Photo © Charlotte Brett

Green-veined White female (expanding wings) - Crawley, Sussex 10-June-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Jun-2015

Green-veined White (male), Steyning (22 August 2011)

Photo © Mark Colvin
22-Aug-2011

Photo Album (34 photos) ...


Pieris napi ssp. britannica

Spring Brood

Green-Veined White - Male Upperside 26/04/2007, Mountstewart, Co Down, Northern Ireland

Photo © Dave McCormick
26-Apr-2007

Green-Veined White - Female - 09/05/2007, Mountstewart, Co Down, Northern Ireland

Photo © Dave McCormick
09-May-2007

Green-Veined White - Mating Pair 11/05/2008 - Whitespots Country Park, Co Down, Northern Ireland

Photo © Dave McCormick
11-May-2008

Green-Veined White - imago - Lough Georg - Unknown date [Adrian Riley]

Photo © Adrian Riley

Green-veined White - imago - Boston, Burren, Clare, Ireland - 30-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White - imago - Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 29-May-13-2

Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White ssp. britannica - female -Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-3

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Green-veined White ssp. britannica - female -Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14-4

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Green-veined White ssp. britannica - female -Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Green-veined White ssp. britannica - male -Craigavon Lakes, Northern Ireland - 22-May-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2014

Photo Album (11 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Green-veined White - female - North Bull Island, Dublin - 09-Aug-13-50

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Aug-2013

Green-veined White - female - North Bull Island, Dublin - 09-Aug-13-62

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Aug-2013

Photo Album (2 photos) ...


Pieris napi ssp. thomsoni

Spring Brood

Green-veined White - East Lothian, Scotland 30-March-2012

Photo © NickMorgan

Green-Veined White - imago - Loch Cre - Unknown date [Adrian Riley]

Photo © Adrian Riley

Green-Veined White - imago - North Kessock - Unknown date [Phil Brown]

Photo © Phil Brown

Green-veined White female - Binning Wood, East Lothian 16/05/2012

Photo © NickMorgan
Presuming that this is ssp. thomsoni according to the distribution map.

Green-veined White male - Westhill, (near Aberdeen) 1-June-2014 [Ken McHardy]

Photo © Ken McHardy
01-Jun-2014

Green-veined White male - Westhill, (near Aberdeen) 1-June-2014 [Ken McHardy]

Photo © Ken McHardy
01-Jun-2014

Green-veined White male - Fishnish Wood, Isle of Mull 14-June-2014

Photo © Jack Harrison

Green-veined White male - Lochdon, Isle of Mull 14-May-2014

Photo © Jack Harrison

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-14-3

Photo © Pete Eeles
28-May-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-14-4

Photo © Pete Eeles
28-May-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
28-May-2014

Photo Album (11 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Green-veined White - East Lothian, Scotland 8-Aug-2012

Photo © NickMorgan

Green-veined White - East Lothian, Scotland 17-Aug-2011

Photo © NickMorgan
17-Aug-2011

Green-veined White male - Forvie Sands, Newburgh, Aberdeenshire 26-July-2014 [Ken McHardy]

Photo © Ken McHardy
26-Jul-2014

Green-veined White female - Kingswells, Aberdeen 3-Aug-2014 [Ken McHardy]

Photo © Ken McHardy
03-Aug-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - female - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 18-Jul-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
18-Jul-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - female - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 18-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
18-Jul-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14-5

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14-6

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14-7

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14-8

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 17-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jul-2014

Green-veined White ssp. thomsoni - male - Glasdrum Wood, Scotland - 18-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
18-Jul-2014

Green-veined White - female - Glasdrum Wood - 17-Aug-15-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Aug-2015

Green-veined White - female - Glasdrum Wood - 17-Aug-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Aug-2015

Photo Album (14 photos) ...


Ovum

Eggs are laid singly on the underside of a leaf of the foodplant. Small plants are preferred, and the eggs hatch in approximately a week depending on temperature. Eggs are sometimes found on the same plants as those used by the Orange-tip. However, the two species are not in competition since the Green-veined White eats the leaves of the plant, whereas the Orange-tip eats the developing seed pods.

"P. napi lays its eggs singly on the under surface of the leaves of various kinds of cruciferous plants ... Two females captured July 16th, 1901, laid a large number of eggs ... on the 18th and 19th. The eggs started hatching very early on the morning of July 22nd, remaining in the egg state a little over three days. The egg as laid stands erect, it measures 1mm. high, of an elongated conical shape, broader in proportion than the egg of P. rapae [Small White], which species it most closely resembles, but it (napi) is without the slight concavity near the summit. It has fourteen or fifteen longitudinal keels, nine or ten of these run, mostly in pairs, the entire length, while five start a little below the summit and run to the base, the intervening spaces have about forty-five transverse ribs. When first laid it is very pale yellowish in colour, gradually turning to pale yellowish-green, finally becoming whiter and glistening before hatching. The egg state varies in the time it occupies according to the temperature, about four or five days being the normal period." - Frohawk (1924)

Green-veined White - Bristol - 21-May-09

Photo © Denise

Green-Veined White - ovum - Thatcham - 12-May-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
12-May-2009

Green-Veined White - ovum - Unknown location - 2003 [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Green-Veined White - ovum - Woolhampton Gravel Pits - 14-Sep-11 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White ovum - Caterham, Surrey 21-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Aug-2013

Green - Veined White Ovum - Somerset - 31/05/14

Photo © William
31-May-2014

Green-veined White - ovum - Tarn Hows, Cumbria - 27-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jul-2014

GVW ovum - Found at Aqualate Mere SSSI, Salop. 09/08/14

Photo © Tony Moore
09-Sep-2014

GVW ova - found near Newport, Salop.10/09/14. Two of three eggs on one cress leaf...

Photo © Tony Moore
09-Sep-2014

Photo Album (9 photos) ...


Larva

The larva eats its eggshell on hatching, before starting to feed on the leaves of the foodplant. There are 4 moults in total and this stage lasts between 3 and 4 weeks.

The primary larval foodplants are Charlock (Sinapis arvensis), Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Large Bitter-cress (Cardamine amara), Water-cress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum), Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) and Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum). Crucifers (various) (Cruciferae family (various)) and Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) are also used.

Green-veined White (1st instar larval feeding damage) - Crawley, Sussex 11-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-May-2017

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


1st Instar

"Directly after emergence the larva measures 1.3 mm. long. The head is large, of a shining pale ochreous colour, sprinkled with very fine hairs, dark eye spots and brown mouth parts. The body is transversely wrinkled and studded with tubercles, each bearing a long slender hair with a slightly cleft knobbed apex (excepting those on the last segment), and curve gently forward; there are six on each segment above the spiracles, i.e., three on each side, and one below the spiracle, the dorsal pair being the largest; on the ventral surface, including the claspers, the hairs are simple. The spiracles are faintly outlined with brown. The entire colouring is a pale cream-yellow." - Frohawk (1924)

Green-Veined White - larva - Thatcham - 16-May-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
16-May-2009

Green-veined White larva - just hatched - Surrey - 7th - May - 2014

Photo © Maximus
07-May-2014

Green-veined White larva - just hatched - Surrey - 7th - May - 2014

Photo © Maximus
07-May-2014

Green-veined White larva (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 10-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-May-2017

Green-veined White larva (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 10-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-May-2017

Green-veined White larva (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 12-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-May-2017

Green-veined White larva (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 12-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-May-2017

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


2nd Instar

"The first moult occurred on July 25th. Before the second moult, when five days old, the larva is barely 6.35 mm. long, cylindrical and of uniform thickness throughout. The head is pale straw-yellow tinged with greenish, and beset with a number of fine black spines with knobbed tips and a few slender, long, finely pointed hairs. The body is shining pale-green, mottled with whitish along the dorsal surface, and fading into yellow-green on the ventral surface; it is deeply wrinkled transversely. There are four longitudinal rows of large white warts on either side; these are placed singly on each segment, the first close to the medio- dorsal line and on the anterior wrinkle, the second sub-dorsal on the fourth wrinkle, the third above the spiracle on the second wrinkle, and the fourth immediately below the spiracle; the three above the spiracle have each a moderately long black spine with a cleft knob at the apex, which carries a tiny bead of clear white fluid; the one below the spiracle has a white spine. Scattered over the body are several minute white spines, each carrying a similar bead of fluid; these all have black and olive bulbous bases; the surface of the body is extremely finely granulated. The claspers and legs are greenish-white. If dislodged from the plant the larva fall suspended by a thread." - Frohawk (1924)

Green-veined White, (early instar larva) - Bristol - 28-May-09

Photo © Denise

Green-veined White larva - 10 days old - Surrey - 17th - May - 2014

Photo © Maximus
17-May-2014

Green - Veined White Larva - Somerset - 31/05/14

Photo © William
31-May-2014

Green-veined White larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 11-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 11-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 14-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
14-May-2017

Green-veined White larva (2nd instar pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 15-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-May-2017

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


3rd Instar

"Before third moult, nine days old, it is 10.5 mm. long, and very similar to the previous stage. The head is slightly greener and there is a very faint yellow spiracular line now visible; the spiracles are outlined with black. Just previous to moulting all the spines are clearly visible under the skin, the large dorsal ones meeting over the back with the points crossed, the second 4 sub-dorsal ones lying in the same position, while the super-spiracular series point towards the spiracles; the position of all is constant in every individual. The colouring is very clear and semi-transparent. The larva rests in a straight attitude." - Frohawk (1924)

Green-veined White larva (3rd instar, moulting) - Crawley, Sussex 20-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (3rd instar, pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 20-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 15-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-May-2017

Green-veined White larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 16-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
16-May-2017

Green-veined White larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 17-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-May-2017

Photo Album (5 photos) ...


4th Instar

"Third moult took place on the evening of July 31st, 1901. Before fourth moult, eleven days old, it measures 15.9 mm. long. All the smaller spines have dull black tubular bases; they vary much in size, some being very small, others large and distinct and placed down the centre of each wrinkle. A bright gamboge-yellow blotch encircles the spiracles, which are situated on a faint yellowish line; below this line all the hairs and tubercles are white; in other respects it is similar to the previous stage. The larvae grow with remarkable rapidity, only existing two or three days in each stage. The same individual is described and figured throughout." - Frohawk (1924)

Green-veined White larva (4th instar) - Caterham, Surrey 20-Sept-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Sep-2013

Green-veined White larva (4th instar, pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 24-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 21-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 18-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
18-May-2017

Green-veined White larva (4th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 19-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-May-2017

Photo Album (5 photos) ...


5th Instar

"After fourth and last moult, fully grown, sixteen days old, it measures 25.4 mm. long. The body is rather attenuated at either end, stoutest about the middle. The segments are deeply wrinkled transversely, the middle segments have each six sub-divisions. The larva is precisely similar to the previous stage except in size. The spiracles are black and encircled with bright gamboge-yellow and the spiracular line is pale and indistinct. The tubercles at the base of the hairs are more clearly defined on account of their larger size; with the exception of the three large white ones bearing black spines, all the rest above the spiracular line are black with greyish hairs; they vary greatly in size, and the longer ones have each a minute bead of white fluid adhering to the tips; all the hairs and tubercles below the spiracular lint are white. The head is covered with hairs like the body. The ground colour is pale green, lightest on the ventral surface; the head is likewise green. It bears a very close resemblance to P. rapae, but the green of P. napi is lighter in colour and the latter has no yellow medio-dorsal line and no other yellow marking on the spiracular line, excepting that encircling the spiracle, and no black tubercles below the spiracular line. The first few larvae spun up for pupation on August 7th, being only sixteen days in the larval state. They crawl with a gliding, slug-like motion, waving their heads from side to side. The specimen figured spun up on the evening of August 7th, and pupated the following evening, and emerged August 20th, 1901. The first four emerged August 17th." - Frohawk (1924)

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-Veined White - larva - Thatcham - 25-May-09 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-May-2009

Green-Veined White - larva - Thatcham - 06-Jun-09 (2) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jun-2009

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (full grown final instar) - Crawley, Sussex 29-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 25-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
25-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (full grown final instar) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Sept-2016

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Sep-2016

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva pupating - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (newly emerged 5th instar) - Crawley, Sussex 24-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (2 hours before pupation) - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White larva (preparing to pupate) - Caterham, Surrey 1-Oct-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Oct-2013

Green-Veined White - larva - Thatcham - 04-Oct-11 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album (25 photos) ...


Pupa

The pupa is generally formed away from the foodplant, low down in vegetation. It is supported by a silk girdle and the cremaster. The pupa has 2 colour forms, green and light brown, although some pupae have an intermediate colouring. This stage lasts around 10 days unless overwintering.

"The pupae are at first of a clear light green. The pupa measures 19 mm. long; it closely resembles that of P. rapae, but in P. napi the abdomen is straighter, the sub-dorsal keel is less bi-angular above the anal angle of the wing; and the meta-thorax less sunken. The head is beaked, the thoracic dorsal keel rises abruptly to an acute angle, and passes over the meta-thorax in almost a straight, unbroken line with the abdomen, which is but slightly curved to the anal segment, the ventral outline is fairly straight; the sub-dorsal keel rises above the anal angle of the wings; at the base of the wing is a slight point from which extends a small keel to the eye, and along the costal and inner margins of the wing. In colouring the pupa is very variable, both as regards the ground colour and markings: pure green, yellow green, ochreous, straw-yellow and pale buff; some are almost spotless and others heavily speckled and marked with black; while every intermediate variation occurs in extent of the markings. The variety of colour is more or less influenced by the surrounding colouring of the site selected for pupation. Fig. 10. The form figured is uniformly of a rich straw-yellow, almost spotless, having only a few minute black specks on the abdomen, which are almost invisible. Fig. 11. Yellow-green form showing black markings on the sub-dorsal keel points. Fig. 12. In the clear pure green form the keels are yellow, spotted and blotched with black and pinkish-brown, with a conspicuous black blotch on the point of the meso-thorax keel; upper edge of beak black, and continued along base of the antennae; also black in the centre of the prothorax; along the spiracular yellow line is a black mark on each segment, forming a conspicuous streak; the wings and abdomen are delicately dotted with black, those on the wings are placed on the nervures; the ventral surface is unspotted and paler green. Fig. 13. The cream-coloured form is spotted and blotched with black, similar to the green form but more deeply so, and in addition has black blotches in the centre of the wings. In more heavily marked specimens the black is very prominent, the markings almost forming continuous lines, giving the pupa a dusky appearance; in these dark forms the ground colour is more of a buff hue, in some inclining to pinkish-buff. The pupa is occasionally found attached to palings and walls in a similar position to that of P. rapae, but owing to napi inhabiting more open country, away from buildings, the pupa is usually attached to the branches, stems and foliage of vegetation." - Frohawk (1924)

Green Veined White Pupa Female (Reared - 2 Hours Before Hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 6-July-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Jul-2010

Green-veined White pupa (1 day old) - Crawley, Sussex 31-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
31-May-2015

Green Veined White Pupa (Reared - 2 Days Before Hatching) - Caterham, Surrey 4-July-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
04-Jul-2010

Green-veined White pupa (6 days old) - Crawley, Sussex 6-June-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Jun-2015

Green-veined White pupa (2 hours old) - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White pupa - Caterham, Surrey 6-Mar-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Mar-2014

Green-veined White pupa (6 hours old) - Crawley, Sussex 30-May-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-May-2015

Green-veined White pupa (3 days old) - Crawley, Sussex 29-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-May-2017

Green-veined White male emerging - Caterham, Surrey 19-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2014

Green-veined White pupa (72 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 7-June-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Jun-2015

Green-veined White pupa - Crawley, Sussex 2-June-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Jun-2017

Green-veined White pupa (5 hours old)- Caterham, Surrey 2-Oct-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Oct-2013

Green-veined White pupa - 6 hours old - Surrey - 29th - May - 2014

Photo © Maximus
29-May-2014

Green-veined White male emerging - Caterham, Surrey 19-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2014

Green-Veined White - pupa - Thatcham - 07-Oct-11 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles

Green-veined White pupa (9 hours old)- Caterham, Surrey 2-Oct-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Oct-2013

Green-Veined White - pupa - Unknown location - 2003 [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Green-veined White male emerging - Caterham, Surrey 19-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2014

Green-veined White male emerging - Caterham, Surrey 19-April-2014

Photo © Vince Massimo
19-Apr-2014

Green-veined White pupa (3 hours before emergence) - Crawley, Sussex 10-June-2015

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Jun-2015

Photo Album (45 photos) ...


Aberrations

This species exhibits great variation in the colour and shade of the ground colour as well as the extent of the spotting. As usual in the 'whites' many aberrations are unique to either male or female specimens, and being seasonally dimorphic some aberrations are also specific to the generation or 'brood'.

This species has been the subject of much experimental breeding in the past, particularly of the impressive aberrations suphurea and fasciata. The aberration sulphurea has been recorded chiefly in Scotland and Ireland and specimens from these areas were bred en masse by entomologists in the early 20th century. These aberrations were popular with breeders and collectors and while scarce now in the wild, a large number of these impressive forms can be found in collections.

There are 79 named aberrations known to occur in Britain.

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

Similar Species

Large White

Description to be completed.

Orange-tip

Description to be completed.

Small White

The Green-veined White and Small White are most easily distinguished by their undersides, where the Green-veined White has pronounced markings along the veins which are absent in the Small White.


Green-veined White (left) and Small White (right)

It is much more difficult to distinguish between the Green-veined White and Small White based on the upperside, since the amount of marking is highly variable. In general, the veins of the Green-veined White are more pronounced. Also, the marking at the apex of the forewing of a Green-veined White often extends down the along the edge of the forewing and is not contiguous. The marking at the apex of a Small White never extends down the edge of the forewing and is unbroken.


Green-veined White male (left) and Small White male (right)

Videos


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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.
Aldwell & Smyth (2015) Aldwell, R. & Smyth, F. (2015) The Butterflies of Donegal.
Bowden (1970) Bowden, S.R. (1970) Pieris napi L.: Speciation and Subspeciation (Lep., Pieridae). Proceedings and Transactions of the British Entomological and Natural History Society.
Bowden (1975) Bowden, S.R. (1975) Some Subspecific and Infrasubspecific Names in Pieris napi L. (Lep.: Pieridae). Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Chalmers-Hunt (1970) Chalmers-Hunt, J.M. (1970) The Butterflies and Moths of the Isle of Man. Transactions of the Society for British Entomology.
Dennis (1977) Dennis, R.L.H. (1977) The British Butterflies - Their Origin and Establishment.
Dennis & Shreeve (1996) Dennis, R.L.H and Shreeve, T.G. (1996) Butterflies on British and Irish Offshore Islands.
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.
Esper (1777) Esper, E.J.C (1777) Die Schmetterlinge in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen.
Ford (1945) Ford, E.B. (1945) Butterflies.
Frohawk (1924) Frohawk, F.W. (1924) The Natural History of British Butterflies.
Lewin (1795) Lewin, W. (1795) The Papilios of Great Britain.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Müller & Kautz (1939) Müller, L. and Kautz, H. (1939) Pieris bryoniae O. und Pieris napi L.. Abhandlungen des Österreichischen Entomologen-Vereines.
Petiver (1695-1703) Petiver, J. (1695-1703) Musei Petiveriani centuria prima-decima, rariora naturae continens.
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.
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).
Thomson (1970b) Thomson, G. (1970) The Distribution and Nature of Pieris napi thomsoni Warren (Lep. Pieridae). Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Verity (1905-1911) Verity, R. (1905-1911) Rhopalocera Palaearctica, Iconographie et Description des Papillons diurnes de la région paléarctique. Papilionidae et Pieridae.
Verity (1916) Verity, R. (1916) The British Races of Butterflies: their relationships and nomenclature. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Warren (1967) Warren, B.C.S. (1967) Supplementary Data on the Androconial Scales of some Holarctic species of Pieris (Lepidoptera). Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Warren (1968) Warren, B.C.S. (1968) On an instable race of Pieris adalwinda, located in Scotland. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation.
Wilkes (1749) Wilkes, B. (1749) The English moths and butterflies: together with the plants, flowers and fruits whereon they feed, and are usually found.