in my garden | butterflies

“You ask what is the use of butterflies. I reply, to adorn the world and delight the eyes of men: to brighten the countryside like so many golden jewels”

17th Century  naturalist – John Ray

(please click on an image for a larger view)

To identify small white and large white you will need to see the wing tips on the upper side of the forewing. A butterfly with extensive black marks at the wing tips, with black colour continuing a long way along the outer edge of the wing is a large white. A butterfly with less extensive grey or black marks at the wing tips, with colouration only extending slightly along the outer edge of the wing is a small white. The number of spots or even the size can be misleading.

Small whites are attracted to white flowers, but I think this is a female Large Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris brassicae), males do not have spots. I love the way his/her legs are dusted in the white pollen from the Scabious flower.

And how deeply it sticks its proboscis into this beautiful silky flower. Many people, especially those with allotments, regard this butterfly as a pest as it lays its eggs on brassica plants which the emerging caterpillars feed on. The ones in my garden lay their eggs on the Nasturtiums and eat those leaves which I don’t mind. And I haven’t planted any kale this year.


  1. What a beautiful capture, Jude. I have the hardest time being patient enough to take decent photos of butterflies.

    1. Heyjude says:

      I have learned to take my time where nature is concerned.

  2. Pete Hillman says:

    We might have no Peacocks, but there are plenty of these fluttering around my garden, too! Very nice photos!

    1. Heyjude says:

      I’m constantly looking out for the Peacock!

  3. Su Leslie says:

    Fantastic photos Jude. 😀

    1. Heyjude says:

      Fantastic butterflies!

  4. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Do they have pale green caterpillars Jude?

    1. Heyjude says:

      Large Whites have black and yellow caterpillars, Small Whites have the pale green ones.

  5. Robyn Haynes says:

    I’ve never looked this closely at this variety before, being one of those who grew brassicas and regarded them as pests. Thank you for a different perspective.

    1. Heyjude says:

      They are rather pretty. Although stripping leaves on one of my trees as we speak. Still, I don’t eat the tree, so I’ll let them be.

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        Every thing has a place.

  6. My mother always curses when the cabbage moths appear in her garden. The caterpillars make a mess of her cabbages.

  7. You are indeed the Butterfly Whisperer!

    1. Heyjude says:

      If only! I was trying to persuade one today to open its wings for me without success.

      1. You still have better luck than me 🙂

        1. Heyjude says:

          Not sure I should show you my more recent ones now.

  8. Breathtaking photos! I’ll never look at my cabbage moths again in the same disdainful way.

    1. Heyjude says:

      You are the second person to call them moths and not butterflies so I had to investigate. There is apparently a species called the Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) which is a different taxonomy, but does feed on brassicas as well as other crops. I also see that in N America the Small Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) is commonly called the Cabbage Moth. Glad we’ve got that sorted!!

      1. Next spring I will definitely look more closely at what comes to our garden. I’ve always heard them called cabbage moths but don’t know that to be true. Maybe we get some of each. I hope to get a chance to learn the difference, firsthand, and will thank you for the reminder to pay attention.

  9. These are wonderful photos. 🙂

    1. Heyjude says:

      More butterflies to come!

  10. bushboy says:

    Lovely 🙂

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