Butterflies of Scotland
- Large White (Pieris brassiciae)

Large White

The Large White is one of two species (the other being the Small White) that can claim the title of “Cabbage White” and the larva of this species can reach pest proportions, and decimate cabbages, leaving just the stalks. The Large White (wingspan is 6 cm or 2.5 to 3 inches) normally has 2 generations each year, or 3 in good years when the conditions allow. It can also migrate to the UK from the continent, augmenting the resident population, even as far as Scotland as result.

The main foodplants are various Brassicaceae, the mustard or cabbage family, nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) and Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea).

Eggs are laid either on the upper or lower leaf surface, in groups of 40 or so, creating an organised egg mass. An individual female may lay up to 600 eggs in total. The eggs hatch in 4-17 days, depending on temperature.

After wandering for some time, the larva finds a suitable pupation site that is typically away from the foodplant, such as fences, tree trunks, and under any overhang on a building, such as its eaves and then overwinters as a pupa. The Large White is in flight from May to June and from July to September. The second brood tends to have darker markings. Both male and female have dark wing tips on the forewing and the female has two black spots on the upper forewing, the male having no spots there. The underside of the forewing has two dark spots in both sexes.

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