Large White

Pieris brassicae

Andrew Cooper
Dean Morley
Steve Maskell
John Murray
Peter Eeles
Peter Eeles
Dean Morley

Identification Tip

Larger than the similar Small White (as you’d expect!), the Large White has a powerful flight and more black on its wings.

What do they eat?

Caterpillars much on plants of the cabbage family including:

  • Cabbage and Brussel-sprouts (Brassica oleracea)
  • Oil-seed Rape (Brassica napus)
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
  • Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea)
  • Sea-Kale (Crambe maritima)

Adults take nectar from a range of flowers including:

  • Bluebell
  • Bugle
  • Dandelion
  • Scabious
  • Teasel

Where does it spend the winter?

In the early autumn, the caterpillars wander around, looking for somewhere to pupate. They usually choose somewhere away from the foodplant such as a fence, a tree or the eaves of a building; somewhere with a bit of protection from the weather. They turn into chrysalises and stay like this for around 8 months, until emerging as a butterfly in the spring.



Flying Season

April - September

Life Cycle


April, May, June, July, August, September


May, June, July, August, September


January, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December


January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

UK Distribution

Want to learn


There is even more about this species on the main Butterfly Conservation website

Fun Facts
about the Large White

As they feed, caterpillars accumulate mustard oils from their foodplants in their bodies, and so don’t taste very nice! Their black and yellow colouring warn birds and other potential predators of their unpleasant taste.