Large White Pieris brassicae


The Large White is found almost anywhere, but is particularly associated with gardens, farmland and allotments where cabbages and other brassica plants grow.


It is the largest of the three common British white species, and is identified by its blacker wing-tips and bolder spots, particularly on the female. Second generation butterflies are considerably larger than first brood individuals.

Flight times

Adults can be seen on the wing any time from February to November. There are usually two generations a year, peaking in May and late July/early August. In warm summers a third brood may be seen in late September and early October.

Food plants

Larval food plants include a whole range of brassicas, including cabbages, kale and brussels sprouts.

Large White
Large White - © Simon Jenkins.

Distribution Maps

Large White distribution map 2005-09
Large White distribution map 2010-14
Large White distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 863
First sighting 04/04/2015
Last sighting 31/10/2015
Large White distribution map 2016
2016 Summary
No of tetrads 774
First sighting 25/03/2016
Last sighting 16/10/2016

Photo Gallery

Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

Small White Pieris rapae

Small White are usually smaller and have paler and less extensive wing-tips than the Large White.

Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni

A female Brimstone flying past could be mistaken for a pale or faded Large White. The black wing-tips of the Large White are the key to look for, plus the female Brimstone has a slight greenish colouration. The Brimstone always rests with its wings closed.

Small White
Small White - female - © Christine Maughan
image of Brimstone butterfly
Brimstone - © Christine Maughan