These are the White family of Butterflies that Lorraine and I have spotted so far in either our Garden or the bank at the back of the garden since we began back in late July 2000. Where possible we try to image the different sexes if there is an obvious difference between them. They are presented in the order in which we usually first see them.
Lorraine and I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures - even though they are probably not the best ever taken of Butterflies!
The Brimstone is quite distinctive with its wing shape resembling a leaf and with the undersides quite greeny-white when the butterfly lands it can certainly resemble a leaf. The distribution covers most of central, eastern and southern England and Wales with a few locations in Ireland as well but it is largely absent from most of Scotland. Although official food plants consist of Buckthorn we have often noticed the Brimstone on our Valeria and later in the year on our Buddleia. They do like grassland, woodland and sunny positions but can be annoying in that they land and close their wings making photography of their upper surfaces extremely difficult. The Brimstone can hibernate through the winter and can be one of the first on the wing in March if the weather is warm enough. It has just one brood so the early examples are almost certainly ones from hibernation. The main brood usually occurs in July or August which gives it the chance to last whilst the days are warm into September and even October. The male upper surfaces are a bright yellow which makes it stand out when flying but the females are a white-green colour so look a bit paler.
Orange Tip Butterfly
The Orange Tip butterfly certainly ranks as one of the prettiest - if it is the male you see! The male has the distinctive orange tip to its wings but the female has white upper sides and no orange tip so it can be confused with the Green Veined White or the Small White at times. The underside of both sexes though is completely different to those other two Whites so once the underside is seen there can be no mistaking them. Broadly speaking the Orange Tip is widespread across most of the UK and Ireland. Its food plants include the same Mustard family as the other Whites but also Cuckooflower and Winter Cress to name a few. It likes grasslands, woodland and ditches as a rule. There is normally just one brood per year from April to about June but occasionally if the weather is warm July as well.
Green Veined White Butterfly
The Green Veined White butterfly can be found across the whole of the UK and Ireland being one of the most common of the whites. Unlike the Large and Small Whites it is not a pest in the garden as its food plants include Hedge and Garlic Mustard, Water Cress and sometimes Nasturtiums. They love damp areas such as hedgerows, ditches, damp grasslands and meadows. The distinctive veins on the wing undersides help identify it compared with the other whites but some later broods may have fainter or lighter veins which on a quick look can be missed. There are usually two broods per year with the first emerging in April and the second from June to August.
Large White Butterfly
The Large White Butterfly is, as the name implies, the largest of the purely white butterflies. It is also probably the most despised by gardeners as its larvae wreaks havoc on any brassica crops so larvae or caterpillars found are often destroyed mercilessly. It is a migrant species and often the first sightings are of these migrants coming in from Europe. Food plants include Cabbage and Brussels-sprout, Oil seed rape and in the garden we’ve found it also likes our Valeria. The Large White is widespread across the UK and Ireland and once breeding has begun there are usually two broods with new specimens emerging from April and the second from July.
Small White Butterfly
The Small White Butterfly is often confused with its large relative and so can also get blamed for damage to crops in gardens. As well as Brassicas, various food plants include Hedge and Garlic Mustard and Nasturtium. It can occur in most habitats and is widespread across the UK and Ireland with lesser sites in northern Scotland. It is a local species to the UK and is sometimes boosted in numbers with migrants from Europe. There are often two broods, one set in April & May and the second from July onwards. The tip of the foremost wing has a grey/darkish patch along the front leading edge whilst in the Large White it is on both edges of the wing tip and is often blacker.