Small White

Pieris rapae

About

As its name suggests, the Small White is a fairly small white butterfly. Adults fly between April and October. A common butterfly, it is found in a wide variety of habitats, including hedgerows, farmland, gardens and parks. Like the Large White, the foodplants of the caterpillars of the Small White are members of the cabbage family, including garlic mustard and garden cabbages, although it relies less on cultivated varieties, breeding on a range of wild foodplants. Resident butterflies are joined by migrants from mainland Europe in summer.

How to identify

A smaller version of Large White, the Small White has less black on the wingtips. It can be distinguished from the Green-veined White by the plain yellowish colour of the underside of its hindwings.

Where to find it

Found across the country, although scarcer in the north of Scotland.

Habitats

When to find it

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October

How can people help

The caterpillars of the Small White butterfly are often considered a pest to gardeners and veg-growers as they damage cabbages and similar crops. If you want to keep the caterpillars away from your Brassicas, try placing horticultural fleece over your vegetables to stop the butterfly reaching the leaves and laying its eggs. You can also pick off the caterpillars, which are green, with a thin yellow stripe down the back and black spots. To find out more about controlling garden pests in a wildlife-friendly way or encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Small White
Latin name
Pieris rapae
Category
Invertebrates
Butterflies and moths
Statistics
Wingspan: 4-5.5cm
Conservation status
Common.