One butterfly with white wings open. The other butterfly is at right angles with underwing showing, which is yellowish with grey veins Active

Green-veined Whites mating. Photo: Ken Dolbear

A butterfly which tends to be lumped in with the other whites as a pest of cabbages, but unfairly: its caterpillars feed on other members of the cruciferae plant family.

Where to see

Habitat: Widespread in the countryside, preferring damp, sheltered areas.

Caterpillar foodplants: In the wild: Water Cress, Lady's Smock, Garlic Mustard, Hedge Mustard. In gardens it may use Sweet Rocket. They may share plants with the caterpillars of the Orange Tip, as Green-Veined White eat the leaves, while the Orange Tip goes for the flower heads and developing seeds.

Best places: Widespread.

Distribution map

Explore the Atlas to see historical distribution trends for this species.

When to see

May be seen from April to September. Usually two broods with a dip in numbers between broods in June; possibly a small third brood in September.

Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:

Sightings this year*:

Browse the sightings archive.


Size: Medium

The best identification feature is the veins on the underside of the wings. These tend to appear grey rather than the green of its name, with the background colour appearing white or cream.

There are subtle differences between males and females and between first and second broods.

First brood males and females tend to have darker veins than the second brood, but less in the way of black markings on the upperside.

First brood males can be almost pure white and sometimes very small, which can lead them to be mistaken for the Wood White, but this is only found in the very west of Dorset.

First brood females have only grey, sketchy wing tips and a black spot on each upper forewing. This can be similar to the female Orange Tip, but this butterfly has more rounded ends to its forewings, and blacker, more defined tips, as well as very different markings on the hind underwings – the Orange Tip is mottled underneath.

Second brood females have fainter veins on the underwings.

To tell them apart from the Large or Small White look both for the veins and at the wing tips, which are never solid black, but sketchy and impressionistic.

Photo gallery

Tip: Click thumbnails to view full-size images.

*Note: The charts shown on this page are drawn only from casual sightings submitted to this website. Records from this website will be added to a lot more data collected throughout the year and used to compile the five-yearly Butterfly Atlases for Dorset and the UK.

Find more Green-veined White related content, including news and photos.