Small White

Pieris rapae (PEE-err-iss RAY-pee)

Small White male - Solihull West Midlands 21.04.2014
Photo © Neil Freeman
 

Wingspan
38 - 57mm

Checklist Number
58.007

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

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Introduction

The Small White, along with the Large White, can claim the title of "Cabbage White" that is the bane of allotment holders all over the British Isles although the damage caused by this species is significantly less than that of the Large White. This is one of the most widespread species found in the British Isles and can be found almost everywhere. It is relatively scarce in northern Scotland but has been seen as far north as Orkney and Shetland. This species is also known to migrate to the British Isles from the continent, sometimes flying in great swarms, augmenting the resident population in the process.

It is believed that this butterfly can fly up to 100 miles in its lifetime although, undoubtedly, most butterflies will only travel a mile or two. Evidence of the mobility of this species comes from a misguided introduction in Melbourne in 1939. 3 years after its introduction, the species had reached the west coast of Australia some 1,850 miles away in only 25 generations. This species has been a pest in the continent ever since.

Taxonomy Notes

Zeller (1847) described the summer generation of P. rapae as f. aestiva, which is more heavily marked with black and more richly coloured. The nominate form, f. rapae, is used to describe the spring generation.

Pieris rapae

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

Adults of the spring brood have generally lighter markings than those of the summer brood.

Spring Brood

Small White (m) (spring brood) Stanwell Moor Middlesex 23rd May 2013

Male
Photo © millerd

Small White male - Caterham, Surrey 5-May-2013

Male Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

Small White female (first brood) - Crawley, Sussex 17-April-07

Female
Photo © Vince Massimo

Small White - imago - f - ovipositing, Provence 26th April 2011

Female Underside
Photo © NickB

Photo Album ...


Summer Brood

Small White - Ffos-y-ffin - 03-08-2014

Male
Photo © Wurzel

Small White Male (Second Brood) - Ifield, Crawley, Sussex 3-Aug-10

Male Underside
Photo © Vince Massimo

Small White female - Castle Hills Solihull 22.09.2013

Female
Photo © Neil Freeman

Small White - imago - Pamber Forest - 28-Jun-04

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
1703Lesser White Cabbage ButterflyPetiver (1702-1706)
1710Smaller Common White ButterflyRay (1710)
1717Lesser White Unspotted Butterfly (male, spring brood)Petiver (1717)
1717Lesser White Single-Spotted Butterfly (male, summer brood)Petiver (1717)
1717Lesser White Double-Spotted Butterfly (female, spring brood)Petiver (1717)
1717Lesser White Treble-Spotted Butterfly (female, summer brood)Petiver (1717)
1749Small White Garden ButterflyWilkes (1749)
1803Small WhiteHaworth (1803)
1819Small Cabbage ButterflySamouelle (1819)
1832TurnipRennie (1832)
1856Small White CabbageStephens (1856)
1896Small Cabbage WhiteKirby (1896)

Conservation Status

The status of this species is relatively-stable and so 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-8
Decrease-25
Stable+7
Stable+9

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

There are generally 2 generations each year, with 3 generations in good years. Second brood adults have noticeably darker markings that those of the first brood. 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.

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

This highly-mobile butterfly can turn up almost anywhere and is a familiar sight in gardens across much of the British Isles where it is attracted to various nectar sources, in particular those with white flowers.

Adults feed primarily on Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.). Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Daisy (Bellis perennis), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Hawkweeds (Hieracium/Hypochoeris), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Red Campion (Silene dioica), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and Sanfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) are also used.

Pieris rapae

Spring Brood

Small White Male - First Brood, Ballard Down, Dorset 18-May-08

Photo © Vince Massimo
18-May-2008

Small White - Sussex 1-May-2016

Photo © trevor
01-May-2016

Small White - imago - Thatcham - 15-May-10 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-May-2010

Small White male - Caterham, Surrey 5-May-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-May-2013

Small White male (wing scales detail) - Caterham, Surrey 5-May-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-May-2013

Small White - imago - Woolhampton Gravel Pits - 21-Apr-12

Photo © Pete Eeles

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2017

Small White male (First brood) - Solihull West Midlands 10.05.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
10-May-2013

small white oviposition

Photo © ronniethepoo

Small White - imago - Woolhampton Gravel Pits - 21-Apr-12-1

Photo © Pete Eeles

Small White female (first brood) - Crawley, Sussex 17-April-07

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-Apr-2007

Small White Clive Burrows [Clive Burrows]

Photo © Clive Burrows

Small White male - Caterham, Surrey 5-May-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-May-2013

Small White - male- imago- MRC 29th March 2011

Photo © NickB

Small White male - Solihull West Midlands 21.04.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
21-Apr-2014

Small White - Five Rivers - 08-04-2014

Photo © Wurzel
08-Apr-2014

Small White male - Guildford, Surrey - 12th March - 2014

Photo © Maximus
12-Mar-2014

Small White - male - imago - MRC 19th April 2011

Photo © NickB
19-Apr-2011

Small White (m) (spring brood) Stanwell Moor Middlesex 23rd May 2013

Photo © millerd
23-May-2013

Small White (reared) - Somerset - 19/05/13

Photo © William

Photo Album (23 photos) ...


Summer Brood

Small White - Solihull West Midlands 27.07.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
27-Jul-2013

Small White female - Castle Hills Solihull 22.09.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
22-Sep-2013

Small White (m) Stanwell Moor Middlesex 2nd September 2014

Photo © millerd
02-Sep-2014

Small White - female - Martin Down- 27-08-2013

Photo © Wurzel
27-Aug-2013

Small White - Solihull West Midlands 24.07.2013

Photo © Neil Freeman
24-Jul-2013

Small White - Ffos-y-ffin - 03-08-2014

Photo © Wurzel

Small White - imago - Stockbridge Down - 08-Jul-10 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
08-Jul-2010

Small White Female - Third Brood (Reared) - Caterham, Surrey 30-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Aug-2010

Small White Male - Second Brood, Birling Gap, Sussex 25-August-06

Photo © Vince Massimo
25-Aug-2006

Small White Male (Second Brood) - Ifield, Crawley, Sussex 3-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Aug-2010

Small White - imago - Stockbridge Down - 01-Aug-07 (1112)

Photo © Pete Eeles
01-Aug-2007

Small White (summer brood) Stanwell Moor Middlesex 28th August 2013

Photo © millerd
28-Aug-2013

Small White males (chasing a GVW) - Sussex 5-July-2016

Photo © Butterflysaurus rex
05-Jul-2016

Small White Female - Second Brood, Crawley, Sussex 29-July-05

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Jul-2005

Small White (f) summer brood: Wilberfoss, Yorkshire 8th August 2013

Photo © millerd
08-Aug-2013

Small White - imago - Pamber Forest - 28-Jun-04

Photo © Pete Eeles
28-Jun-2004

Small White (m), Thorney Island, 18/08/2016

Photo © Pauline
18-Aug-2016

Small White (m) Stanwell Moor, Middlesex  10th July 2011

Photo © millerd
10-Jul-2011

Small White male - Caterham, Surrey 1-Sept-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
01-Sep-2013

Small White - imago - Pamber Forest - 05-Jul-04

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Jul-2004

Photo Album (28 photos) ...


Ovum

Eggs are laid singly, normally on the underside of a leaf. Foodplants in sheltered areas are preferred and gardens often provide ideal locations as a result. The eggs are pale when first laid, but gradually turn yellow and ultimately grey prior to hatching, this stage lasting as little as a week.

"The eggs are deposited singly on the under surface of the leaves, generally not more than one on a leaf. The egg stands erect, of an elongated conical form, a little convex just below the summit, and fullest about the middle, becoming slightly less on nearing the base, which is firmly attached to the leaf; the extreme summit is flat; there are twelve longitudinal keels, ten of which generally commence at the summit and run to the base, the remaining two start just below the summit and branch from the others; the spaces between the keels are delicately ribbed transversely by about thirty-five ribs in number and are concave along the upper half, becoming gradually flatter number and are concave along the upper half, becoming gradually flatter and finally slightly convex and sometimes showing a slight intermediate ridge. The colour when first laid is a very delicate pale yellow-green-white; in twenty-four hours it assumes a slightly deeper tone, inclining to primrose-yellow." - Frohawk (1924)

Small White - ovum - Unknown location - 2003 [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Mature Small White Ovum on Black Kale - Somerset - 27/07/12

Photo © William

Small White ovum on Hairy Bittercress - Caterham, Surrey 29-July-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Jul-2012

Small White - ovum - Thatcham - 24-Jul-12

Photo © Pete Eeles

Small White ovum - Caterham, Surrey 21-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Aug-2013

Small White - ovum - Thatcham - 24-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Jul-2014

Small White ovum - Sussex, May 2016

Photo © Gary.N

Small White ovum (just before hatching) - Sussex 5-June-2016

Photo © Gary.N

Small White - ovum - Thatcham - 24-Jul-16-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Jul-2016

Small White - ovum - Thatcham - 24-Jul-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Jul-2016

Small White ova (on Garlic Mustard) - Crawley, Sussex 13-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Sep-2017

Photo Album (11 photos) ...


Larva

The larva eats its eggshell on hatching, and subsequently feeds on the foodplant, leaving tell-tale holes in the leaf which increase in size as the larva grows. On cabbages and other brassicas, the caterpillar moves into the heart of the plant as it grows. Older larvae tend to rest on the midrib of a leaf where it is well-camouflaged. This stage lasts around 3 weeks.

The primary larval foodplants are Crucifers (various) (Cruciferae family (various)) and Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus). Charlock (Sinapis arvensis), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Hoary Cress (Lepidium draba), Wild Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) and Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea) are also used.

Small White - larva - Thatcham - 24-Aug-08 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
24-Aug-2008

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


1st Instar

"Directly after emerging the larva measures 1.8 mm. long. It has a number of conical tubercles running in longitudinal rows down the body, those on the dorsal surface being the largest, all emit fine white hairs, three on each side; those on the dorsal region, especially the medio-dorsal pair, are very long and terminate in a cleft club-shaped apex, from which exudes a very each side; those on the dorsal region, especially the medio-dorsal pair, are very long and terminate in a cleft club-shaped apex, from which exudes a very long and terminate in a cleft club-shaped apex, from which exudes a very minute globule of white fluid; the four sub-spiracular hairs on each segment have simple tips; all those on the first segment are the longest and curve forwards and are finely pointed. The head is elongated, with dark eye spots and blackish hairs; the spiracles are brownish. The entire colouring is a light ochreous-yellow; the skin is smooth and shining. After its first meal of the food plant it is decidedly tinged with green, owing to the semi-transparency of its body, the green becoming intensified after each meal. It at first eats a circular hole in the cuticle of one side of the leaf, close to the site of the egg, it then turns round and rests in a straight position and generally about its own length from the hole, with its head furthermost away. After resting a short time it returns to the same spot and again feeds, and quickly eats through the whole substance of the leaf (mignonette); after a few meals taken from the same spot it commences at a fresh place, each hole increasing in size, until the leaf is perforated in several places. Before first moult it measures 3.2 mm. long and is of a semi-transparent light yellowish-green, otherwise it is unaltered. It rests in a straight position and lives on the under surface of the leaf." - Frohawk (1924)

Small White larva (first instar) on Bittercress - Caterham, Surrey 5-Aug-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Aug-2012

Small White larva (first instar) on Bittercress - Caterham, Surrey 5-Aug-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Aug-2012

Small White larva (first instar) on Nasturtium - Caterham, Surrey 27-July-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
27-Jul-2013

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-Sep-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Sep-2017

Small White larva (1st instar) - Crawley, Sussex 14-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Sep-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
15-Sep-2017

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


2nd Instar

"First moult August 21st. Before second moult it measures 5.5 mm. long, the body is cylindrical and of a clear yellowish-green colour; the six large white warts or tubercles on the dorsal area of each segment now emit black hairs, the body is thickly sprinkled all over with very short stiff black hairs, all are clubbed as in the previous stage; the head is pale greenish-yellow, the legs whitish. There is a very fine and rather indistinct pale medio-dorsal line, and a lateral undulating line, but very indistinct; the spiracles are black, the body is shining, semi-transparent and transversely wrinkled." - Frohawk (1924)

Small White larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 9-Sept-2016

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Sep-2016

Small White larva (early instar) on Bittercress - Caterham, Surrey 10-Aug-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Aug-2012

Small White larva (early instar) on Bittercress - Caterham, Surrey 10-Aug-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Aug-2012

Small White larva (2nd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 12-Sept-2016

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Sep-2016

Small White larva (2nd instar pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 13-Sept-2016

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Sep-2016

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
16-Sep-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
17-Sep-2017

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


3rd Instar

"Second moult August 23rd, the second stage only occupying two days. After second moult, when six days old, it measures 8 mm. long. It is entirely of a clear pure green colour, the head and legs of a yellowish-green. It is precisely similar to the previous stage excepting that the hairs are longer, they still exude small beads of moisture from the cleft clubbed tips." - Frohawk (1924)

Small White larva (freshly moulted 3rd instar) - Caterham, Surrey 12-Aug-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Aug-2012

Small White larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 7-Sept-2016

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Sep-2016

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Sep-2016

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
13-Sep-2016

Small White larva (3rd instar pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 7-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
07-Aug-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Sep-2017

Small White larva (3rd instar) - Crawley, Sussex 21-Sept-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
21-Sep-2017

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


4th Instar

"Third moult August 28th. After third moult, eleven days old, it is 12.7 mm. long. The body is nearly of a uniform thickness, being only slightly attenuated; it is very convex above and rather flattened below; the ground colour is a pure green, but the surface is densely sprinkled with minute black dots, each emitting a tiny whitish hair that gives to the surface a soft velvety green texture; the large dorsal warts and hairs are the same as in the previous stages. There now appears a faint medio-dorsal line, extending the entire length, but very faint posteriorly, also a yellow spiracular line principally produced by a yellow spot behind each spiracle and a very faint greenish-yellow spot surrounding the spiracle in front. The segmental divisions are ill defined, each segment is transversely wrinkled, the wrinkles numbering seven in the middle of the body. The head, legs and claspers are the same colour as the body; the former is sprinkled with warts, each bearing a hair. It rests in a straight position along the midrib of the leaf and feeds by day." - Frohawk (1924)

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Oct-2013

Small White - larva - Thatcham - 13-Aug-12 (6) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Oct-2013

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Sep-2016

Small White larva (4th instar - eating old larval skin) - Caterham, Surrey 10-Aug-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Sep-2016

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-Sep-2016

Small White larva (4th instar pre-moult) - Crawley, Sussex 14-Aug-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Aug-2017

Photo Album (7 photos) ...


5th Instar

"Fourth moult September 1st, 1893. After each moult it entirely consumes its cast skin. After fourth and last moult, fully grown, nineteen days old, it measures between 23 mm. and 25.4 mm. in length. The body is cylindrical and of nearly uniform thickness, the first and last segments being only slightly tapered. The head is smaller than the first segment. The ground colour is a rather pale green, darkest on the dorsal surface and palest on the ventral surface, which is whitish-green. The segments are fairly well defined and have seven sub-divisions from the fourth to ninth segments inclusive, the first and last three segments have each four sub-divisions. There is a slender medio-dorsal line of a greenish-yellow colour which extends from the head and terminates on the eleventh segment in most specimens, but in some it can be faintly traced over the last segment. There is also a very pale and indistinct spiracular line on which is situated a series of bright gamboge-yellow marks, one on the second and third segments, and two on each of the other eight segments, the last is without any. The anterior mark joins the spiracle, and the posterior marking is larger and oblong, and is placed a short distance from the spiracle. The spiracles are flesh-colour and outlined by a black rim. The entire surface is thickly sprinkled with small black points, varying in size, some being extremely small, each emits a very fine short pale hair; the points below the spiracles are most minute and many are pale and emit rather longer, white, sharply pointed hairs; on the dorsal surface the hairs terminate in a knob; the three white sub-dorsal warts on each segment emit black hairs; directly below each spiracle is a similar white wart emitting a simple pointed white hair. The head is green and sprinkled with points and hairs exactly the same as the body, the eye spots are black. The legs and claspers are the same colour as the ventral surface. By September 7th the larva was fully grown and commenced roaming about in seareh of a suitable place for pupation. It spun up on the following morning and pupated midday on the 9th." - Frohawk (1924)

Small White Larva (Reared) awaiting pupation - Caterham, Surrey 22-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
22-Aug-2010

Small White Caterpillar - Durham

Photo © Mandie

Small White Larva (Reared) - Caterham, Surrey 12-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Aug-2010

Small White Larva on Garlic Mustard - Caterham, Surrey 9-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Aug-2010

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

Photo © Pete Eeles

Small White larva preparing to pupate - Caterham, Surrey 23-Oct-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
23-Oct-2013

Small White larva - Caterham, Surrey 18-Aug-2012

Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Aug-2012

Small White larva - Caterham, Surrey 10-Oct-2013

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Oct-2013

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Nov-2013

Photo Album (9 photos) ...


Pupa

The pupa is usually formed away from the foodplant, such as on a fence, tree trunk or building, and is supported by a silk girdle and the cremaster. The pupa may even be found in greenhouses. The pupa has two main colour forms - green and brown - and those that do not go on to produce adults in the same year overwinter.

"The pupa measures 19 mm. long. Side view — the head is beaked in front, the thorax strongly angulated by a central dorsal keel, which rises acutely at the middle and declines to the abdomen, the keel again rises gently and curves to the anal segment, which terminates in a long cremaster furnished with hooks; along the ventral surface the wings form a slight swelling; the sub-dorsal keel which rises above the anal angle of the wing is strongly bi-angulate; the highest point is posterior; the keel then takes a lateral course along the abdomen to the anal segment. The colour varies greatly in different specimens, ranging from cream-white, buff, pale drab to dull grey or dusky, while others vary from pale ochreous-yellow to green. The one described is the same individual as the larva from which the foregoing descriptions are made, and is of about the normal colouring and may be considered as a typical rape pupa, which is of a uniformly pale pinkish-buff. The entire surface is covered with exceedingly fine punctures which develop with very delicate reticulations over the wings; the antenna, legs and head are all darker than the ground colour; the head and especially the thorax are densely sprinkled with minute black specks that are only visible by the aid of a lens. Numerous black dots are scattered over the surface, the principal dots are situated as follows — a series along the dorsal keel and on the anterior part of each abdominal segment, the largest on the thoracic point, and others on the sub-dorsal keel and on each segment immediately above the keel, and a sub-spiracular row; the nervures of the wings are finely spotted, and a marginal series of seven black dots, one on each space above the nervures; along the beak is a conspicuous black streak; the antennae are finely spotted and terminate in a black point which reaches beyond the apex of the wings. The pupa is attached by a fine silken cincture round the middle and by the cretnastral hooks to a pad of silk. The normal sites for pupation are under the copings of walls, ledges of sheds, palings and other buildings. The colouring of the pupa usually harmonizes with its surroundings, being highly sensitive to backgrounds. The pupae resulting from the spring parents are frequently attached to the leaves of the food plants, when they are invariably green, which renders them difficult to detect, consequently affording them much protection." - Frohawk (1924)

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2017

Small White Pupa (Brown Form) - Caterham, Surrey (Reared) 24-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-Aug-2010

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Nov-2013

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Nov-2013

Small White Female Pupa (Green Form) - (Reared) 1 day before hatching - Caterham, Surrey 29-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
29-Aug-2010

Small White Female Pupa (Brown Form)-(Reared) 8 hours before hatching - Caterham, Surrey 30-Aug-10

Photo © Vince Massimo
30-Aug-2010

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
03-Nov-2013

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
10-Nov-2013

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
11-Oct-2016

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Nov-2013

Small White Pupa, Female (2 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey (Reared) 6-May-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-May-2011

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Nov-2013

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
02-Nov-2013

Small White Pupa, Female (8 hours before hatching) - Caterham, Surrey (Reared) 6-May-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
06-May-2011

Small White (15 houurs before emerging - Crawley, Sussex 8-May-2017

Photo © Vince Massimo
08-May-2017

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

Photo © Vince Massimo
09-May-2017

Photo Album (40 photos) ...


Aberrations

Aberration in this species chiefly occurs in the upperside ground colour and the extent of the black markings. 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'.

Certain ground colour aberrations in this species have been found mainly in Scotland and Ireland. The aberration flava has been recorded chiefly in Ireland and specimens from the country were bred en masse by entomologists such as Newman 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 39 named aberrations known to occur in Britain.

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

Similar Species

Green-veined 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)

Large 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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References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
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.
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.
Ray (1710) Ray, J. (1710) Historia Insectorum.
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 (1856) Stephens, J.F. (1856) List of the specimens of British animals in the collection of the British Museum.
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.
Zeller (1847) Zeller, P.C. (1847) Isis von Oken.