Small White butterfly - Pieris rapae
Photo ©2005 - Stuart
Wild About Britain
Small White butterfly - Pieris rapae caterpillar, click for a larger image, licensed for reuse
Caterpillar
Photo ©2006 - James K. Lindsey

Small White butterfly - Pieris rapae
Also known as - the Small Cabbage White

One of the most common butterflies growing to between 30 and 50mm (1.2-2in).  A species found in agricultural habitats being well adapted to horticultural and agricultural produce.  It can produce up to three generations in a year depending upon the climatic conditions but in the UK it generally just has two flight periods, April-May and July-August.  Overall creamy white or yellow / white in colour, it has several (three to four) black eye spots towards the outer edges of the wings and black wing tips.  Females (♀) also have two black spots in the centre of the fore-wings.  Its caterpillars can be a pest on the cultivated cabbage families, kale, radish, broccoli, and horseradish but it will readily lay eggs on wild members of the cabbage family such as Charlock - Sinapis arvensis and Hedge Mustard - Sisybrium officinale.  The eggs are laid singularly on the food plant leaves and the chrysalis hibernates.  A strong flyer with the British population increasing with continental butterflies in some years.

Widespread across Europe, North Africa and Asia and has also been accidentally introduced to North America, Australia and New Zealand where it has become a pest on cabbage and other mustard family crops.  In New Zealand it is known simply as the White Butterfly and in the United States as the "Imported Cabbage Worm".  The caterpillars are green and well camouflaged, finely hairy with a fine yellow stripe along the back and small yellow spots on the body margin of each segment becoming larger on the legged front segments.

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