Compare with: large white

Small white Pieris rapae

Best time to see: Apr to mid Oct

Key facts

Smaller of the white butterflies that lay eggs on cabbage plants

Habitat: wherever its food plants – cabbages or other crucifers – can be found

Widespread and common


White upperwings with black markings; underwings dusted yellow

Ranges widely across the countryside, laying eggs wherever its foodplants can be found

Usually seen in ones or twos; wingspan just under 5 cm


Lays pale yellow eggs singly under the leaves of brassicas (such as cabbages) and wild crucifers in April

Mainly green caterpillars bore into the heart of the plant to feed, then emerge to rest openly along the midribs of the leaves

Adults emerge from the chrysalis in spring, after over-wintering, then again in July

© Bill Varney

© Bill Varney