Butterflies of Scotland
- Small White (Pieris rapae)

The Small White is a small- to medium-sized butterfly species of the Yellows-and-Whites family Pieridae. It is also commonly known as the Small Cabbage White. An adult's wingspan is roughly 1-1.25in.

It is widespread across Europe, North Africa and Asia and has also been accidentally introduced to North America, Australia and New Zealand where they have become pests on cultivated cabbages and other mustard family crops.

In appearance it looks like a smaller version of the Large White. The upperside is creamy white with black tips to the forewings. Females also have two black spots in the centre of the forewings; the male has one spot. Its underwings are yellowish with black speckles. It is sometimes mistaken for a moth due to its plain-looking appearance.

The Small White is a highly mobile species and each year the resident population is boosted by individuals flying in from mainland Europe. It is a common visitor to gardens where it breeds on brassicas and Nasturtium, though it relies less on cultivated brassica crops than the Large White and breeds on a range of wild foodplants such as Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale), Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Hoary Cress (Lepidium draba). Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea) is used to a lesser extent. The caterpillars grow quickly and mature in about three weeks. Like many other "White" butterflies, the second brood caterpillar forms a chrysalis which over-winters.

In Britain, it has two flight periods, April–May and July–September.

Return to the Butterfly Index

or go to the next Butterfly: Speckled Wood

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line