Whites

A guide to butterfly species commonly found in Dorset

Brimstone

Gonepteryx rhamni

Brimstone butterflyBrimstone butterfly
When to see:

Peak: End March to Mid-May and Mid-August to End September, but present nearly all year

Habitat:

Woodland, downland and lanes

Where to see:

Anywhere

Caterpillar Foodplants:

Purging or Alder Buckthorn

Behaviour:

Patrol

Comments:

Beware confusing this with the Brimstone moth, which is occasionally seen in the day:

Brimstone moth

Atlas: Distribution map & population trends

 

Clouded Yellow

Colias croceus

Clouded Yellow - upper wingsClouded Yellow under wings

Photos: Tim Field (left) and Lyn Pullen

When to see:

Early May to Early June. Mid July to End October.
Peak: August and October

Habitat:

Flower-rich downland, and near the coast

Where to see:

A migrant species that varies in numbers from year to year, but recently found to be breeding on the coast around Bournemouth.

Foodplants:

Clovers, Birdsfoot Trefoil

Behaviour:

Patrol

Atlas: Distribution map & population trends

 

Green-veined White

Pieris napi

Green-veined White butterflyGreen-veined white
When to see:

April to End September.
Peak: May,June and late July to Early September

Habitat:

Woodland rides, lanes

Where to see:

Anywhere

Foodplants:

Crucifers, Garlic Mustard

Behaviour:

Patrol. Will continue to fly in dull weather if warm.

Atlas: Distribution map & population trends

 

Large White

Pieris brassicae

Large White butterflyLarge White butterfly
When to see:

Mid April to Early July. End July to End September.
Peak: Early May to Mid June and August to Mid September

Habitat:

Anywhere

Where to see:

Anywhere

Foodplants:

Crucifers, cabbage

Behaviour:

Patrol

Atlas: Distribution map & population trends

 

Orange Tip

Anthocaris cardamines

Orange Tip butterflyOrange-tip butterfly
When to see:

Late March to June. Occasionally seen in July and August in recent years.
Peak: May and Early June.

Habitat:

Woodland rides, lanes, meadows

Where to see:

Cashmoor, Clubmens Down, Deadmoor Common, Duncliffe Wood, Fifehead Wood, Fontmell Down, Girdler's Coppice, Hod Hill, Jerry’s Hole, Lydlinch Common, Stubhampton Bottom, Oaker’s Wood, Tadnoll, Townsend Quarry, Brackett's Coppice, Cerne Abbas, Kingcombe Pound, Kingcombe Redholm, Kingcombe Stones, Powerstock North, Powerstock Railway, Garston Wood, Ham Common, Moors Valley CP, Stour Valley

Foodplants:

Crucifers, especially Hedge Garlic and Ladies Smock. Larvae feed on the developing seedpods.

Behaviour:

Males Patrol

Atlas: Distribution map & population trends

 

Small White

Pieris rapae

Small white butterflySmall White butterfly

When to see:

April to Early October.
Peak: May to Early June, and August to Mid September

Habitat:

Anywhere

Where to see:

Anywhere

Foodplants:

Crucifers, including cabbage and Nasturtiums

Behaviour:

Patrol

Atlas: Distribution map & population trends

 

Wood White

Leptidea sinapis

Wood White butterflyWood White top view

Note: it is very rare to see the top view of a Wood White - they nearly always have their wings closed.

When to see:

Early May to June. Occasional sightings in August.
Peak: Late May to Late June.

Habitat:

Woodland rides, clearings

Where to see:

Powerstock Railway

Foodplants:

Tufted Vetch, Meadow Pea

Behaviour:

Patrol

Atlas: Distribution map & population trends