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Small White

Pieris rapae

  • Name also: Small Cabbage White, (often uncorrectly Cabbage Butterfly, Cabbage White)
  • Family: Whites and Yellows – Pieridae
  • Subfamily: Whites – Pierinae
  • Wing span: Medium-sized, 40–53 mm (1.52–2.24 in.).
  • Wing upper side: White, forewing with black tip. Males with one and females with two black blotches in middle of forewing.
  • Wing underside: Forewing white, tip yellow. Males and females with two black blotches in middle of forewing. Hind wing pale yellow.
  • Habitat: All kinds of open environments. Often in gardens and agricultural land.
  • Flying time: Mid-May–late August (until October in warm autumns). Usually most abundant in July during time of second generation.
  • Overwintering form: Cocoon. Overwintering does not succeed in Finland in the coldest winters.
  • Larval foodplant: Different kinds of Mustard family (Brassicaceae) like cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis), wintercress (Barbarea vulgaris) and dame’s violet (Hesperis matronalis)
    and also garden plants, e.g. yellow mignonette (Reseda lutea).

The small white looks a lot like the large white, despite the obvious difference in size, and like the smaller green-veined white too. It can be told apart from the large white by the dark blotch on the tip of its forewing, which reaches less than halfway along the margin of the wing. The underside of small white’s hind wings are yellowish, and its veins do not stand out like those of the green-veined white.

Spring small whites in Finland are mostly wanderers from the south. Males fly around looking for females. The females lay their eggs one by one on the host plant. Overwintering can succeed in Finland, but even then the population is supplemented by wanderers.

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

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