Green Veined White Butterfly - Western Isles - Hebrides Insects

Green Veined White Butterfly-Outer Hebrides

Green Veined White Butterfly - Western Isles
Pieris napi

One of Scotland's most familiar butterflies. Green veined butterfly - common almost everywhere in Scotland and throughout the UK.

These lovely butterflies are plentiful in The Western Isles. and particularly on the females the green veins make them a beautiful sight.

Like Damp Grassland
The green veined white butterflies like damp grassland and as there is lots of damp grassy moorland here in The Isle of Lewis, perhaps that explains why we see so many of these delightful butterflies.

The green veined butterfly also loves woodlands and meadows. Generally speaking theses butterflies do prefer the shade. This species is widespread throughout Europe.

Further Broods - Different Markings and Depth of Colour - Paler - More Yellowy
There can be several broods of this butterfly during the summer months and the subsequent broods differ somewhat in their colouration and markings. The first brood has lighter upper side markings than later broods, but darker underside markings. The second brood, which is always stronger than the first brood has much paler markings and have more of a yellow background colour.

Often Mistaken for the Small White Butterfly or Large White - How to Tell Them Apart - Differences

The green veined butterfly is often mistaken for the small white - especially the later broods which don't have the really distinct markings. The Green-veined White and Small White are most easily distinguished by their undersides, where the Green-veined White has pronounced markings along the veins which the Small White doesn't have.

If you are looking at the upper side of the wing, then it really is much more difficult to establish which species it is, as the markings do vary so much. Another way of identifying of the butterfly is a small white or a green veined is to watch the flight of the butterfly.

The small white has a really strong directional flight pattern, whilst the Green Veined Butterflies flight is a really delicate gentle fluttering Smaller than the Large White,the green veined butterfly has less black in the wing, it also prefers damper habitats than the small and large white butterflies The larvae of both the large white and the small white are widely know to prefer cabbage plants and indeed are considered by gardeners to be pests - however the green veined butterfly does not favour cabbages at all.

Population - Numbers of Green Veined Butterflies in The Western isles

Unlike the large white and the small white butterflies, the green veined white butterflies aren't augmented by migrants, so this means that numbers of this butterfly usually remain pretty constant, year on year. However if the summer is a particularly hot one, the conditions that this species likes for breeding aren't as good, and the following summer can mean that a slightly smaller population is to be seen, but the numbers usually quickly recover in the subsequent years

Lots of Nectar here in The Western Isles
The fact that we have so many wildflowers here, and the beautiful machair - a carpet of wildflowers in the summer, means that there is plenty of nectar for this butterfly. These butterflies love the ragwort, the ragged robin and the cuckoo flower, all of which thrive here in the Outer Hebrides.

Lemon Smell - The Adult Male
The adult male has a lemon smell, said to be like that of the lemon verbena plant. When a male mates, he also deposits a chemical that puts off any other males that are around.

Butterfly Overview - Green Veined White Butterfly
Latin name
Pieris napi

The green veined butterflies have white wings with some black marks to tips and two black spots. They have a dark body and green veins on the hind wing. They have yellow tips on the underside of their forewings. The female has much more pronounced green veins than the male and the male has only one black spot on forewings and the black markings are less pronounced The female has two spots on each forewing, whilst the male has only one spot.

In both sexes, the upper surfaces of the wings are yellowish white and the forewings have blackish tips In cool or hazy conditions Green-veined White butterfly usually basks with their wings held slightly apart. This causes solar radiation to be reflected onto the dark thorax, which helps them to get extra boosts of energy.

Green Veins - An Illusion - Actually Yellow and Black Scales The " green veins" on the underside of the adults are, in fact, an illusion created by a subtle combination of yellow and black scales. THe green veins help this butterfly to be well camouflaged when amongst vegetation.

Size The wingspan is 40 - 52mm

The green veined butterfly likes damp grassland and as there is lots of damp grassy moorland here in The Isle of Lewis, perhaps that explains why we see so many of these delightful butterflies. The green veined butterfly also loves woodlands and meadows. Generally speaking theses butterflies do prefer the shade

Adult green veined white butterflies feed on many wildflowers nectar, cuckooflowers, ragwort are just two wildflowers that thrive here in the Western Isles

May to late October.
The males emerge first and spend their time searching for a suitable female. They can cover large areas searching for the mate, but if a female be unwilling, perhaps if she has already mated - she lets the male know this by holding her wings flat and the abdomen upright, which makes it an impossibility for the male to mate with her. Usually this works, but occasionally it has been proved that females have mated more than once

The caterpillar is bright green and has very fine hairs. The caterpillar also has yellow broken stripes along the sides of it's body and fine black speckles. The egg is oblong in shape and yellow with a dark band near the top. The pupa's colour can vary much to suit the surroundings - very clever.

The pale green eggs are laid singly on the underside of leaves - perhaps for example the leaves of the cuckooflower. It takes 7 to 14 days before the green larvae appear, very well camouflaged , they start to feed. When these larvae are fully grown - about 25mm, they move away from the food plant ready to pupate and form the chrysalis which is either green or brown in the vegetation that surrounds. If these breeding is too late in the summer, then these will overwinter in their pupal stage.

The later broods, are usually a very pale straw colour as opposed to the greener colour of the first broods pupa. The caterpillar feeds alone during daylight, and is a dark slightly bluish green colour, with yellow spiracles

Misc. Info
In Scotland currently there is no indication that the status of the Green Veined Butterfly is under any threat - perhaps this is why we see quite a lot of these lovely butterflies in The Western Isles. The green veined butterfly only has a three week life span (as a butterfly) In North America it is know as THe Mustard White Butterfly

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