Pieris brassicae | Large White | Bánóg mhór

Pre 2017

2017 - 2021


Conservation status

Ireland: Least Concern (Regan et al., 2010)
Europe: Least Concern (van Swaay et al., 2010)
Climate risk category: Potential Climate Change Risk; present distribution in Europe can be explained by climate to only a limited extent (Settele et al., 2008).

Legal status

The Large White is not afforded legal protection in Ireland.

Native status


Species Biology


Key identification features include:

  • Large size, wingspan: 58 - 63 mm
  • Apical border of forewing with a black marking extending further down the outer margin of wing compared to costal margin
  • Females have two black spots and a black streak on upperside of forewing


Wide variety of habitats including fallow crops and gardens.  Adults fly actively and rapidly in sunshine over a wide range of habitats, but especially over and among Brassica crops (Bond & Gittings, 2008)

Flight period

Bivoltine: typically, the 1st generation flies from April to June and the 2nd generation flies from July to October.  A third generation may also occur and the intermittent arrival of migrants produces a more or less continuous flight season.

Life cycle

Eggs are laid in groups of about 40 in neat adjacent lines on the upper or lower surface of the foodplant.  After hatching, the larva feeds on a range of Brassicaceae and initially gregarious, feeding on the outer leaves of the foodplant, then leaving the plant to pupate after a period of dispersal.  This species overwinters as a pupa attached to rigid surfaces such as walls, window-frames, fences, tree-trunks etc. (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Food plants

The larva feeds on a range of Brassicaceae, but especially on cultivated Brassica spp., as well as Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus).

Flowers visited

Generalist, the adult’s nectar sources include: Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.), Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Carline Thistle (Carlina vulgaris), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis), Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis), Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) and Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) are also used.


World distribution(GBIF)

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

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Bond, K.G.M. and Gittings, T. 2008. Database of Irish Lepidoptera. 1 - Macrohabitats, microsites and traits of Noctuidae and butterflies. Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 35. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland.

Regan, E.C., Nelson, B., Aldwell, B., Bertrand, C., Bond, K., Harding, J., Nash, D., Nixon, D. and Wilson, C.J. 2010. Ireland Red List No. 4 – Butterflies. National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ireland.

Settele, J., Kudrna, O., Harpke, A., Kühn, I., Van Swaay, C., Verovnik, R., Warren, M.S., Wiemers, M., Hanspach, J., Hickler, T. and Kühn, E. 2008. Climatic risk atlas of European butterflies. Sofia-Moscow: Pensoft.

Van Swaay, C., Cuttelod, A., Collins, S., Maes, D., López Munguira, M., Šašic, M., Settele, J., Verovnik, R., Verstrael, T., Warren, M., Wiemers, M. and Wynhof, I. 2010. European Red List of Butterflies. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.