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Large White

Pieris brassicae

  • Name also: Cabbage Butterfly, Cabbage White
  • Family: Whites and Yellows – Pieridae
  • Subfamily: Whites – Pierinae
  • Wing span: Medium-sized–large, 50–64 mm (1.97–2.56 in.).
  • Wing upper side: White, tip of forewing black. Females’ forewing in addition with two black blotches.
  • Wing underside: Forewing white, tip yellow. Male and female both with two black blotches in middle of forewing. Hind wing pale yellow.
  • Habitat: All kinds of open environments. Often in gardens and on agricultural land.
  • Flying time: Late May–mid-September. Usually 2 generations in Finland.
  • Overwintering form: Cocoon. (Rarely in Finland.)
  • Larval foodplant: Different kinds of cabbages (Brassica) as well as e.g. woad (Isatis tinctoria), hoary allison (Berteroa incana) and other large members of the Mustard family (Brassicaceae).

The Whites and Yellows family is comprised of over 1,000 species worldwide, of which 16 can be found in Finland, divided into three subfamilies of which the Whiters is one. The other two subfamilies of the Pieridae family in Finland are the Sulphurs and Mimic sulphurs.

The large white is mostly a wanderer in Finland. It is quite similar to the green-veined white and small white, although they are smaller. The black tip of large whites’ forewings extends halfway along its outer margin, which sets it apart from the green-veined white (whose dark tip is less than half the length of the wing). The underside of the large white’s hind wings are evenly yellowish and the wing veins are the same colour, which is one way of telling it apart from the green-veined white (whose veins in the corresponding place are a mealy grey colour).

Females lay their eggs in groups of 50–100 among the leaves of the host plant. Caterpillars live in groups. The species overwinters in Finland in a cocoon (although it does not stand the winter as well as the green-veined white), but the population receives a boost in the summer when it is joined by wanderers from southern countries.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same group

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