Leptidea sinapis | Wood White | Bánóg choille

Pre 2017

2017 - 2021


Conservation status

Ireland: Near Threatened (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 Wood White is not afforded legal protection in Ireland.

Native status


Species Biology


Nelson et al. (2001) found that there are two species of Wood White in Ireland that cannot be reliably differentiated in the field. Genetic research by Dinca et al. (2011; 2013) found that the Wood White Leptidea sinapis, found throughout Britain and continental Europe, is confined to the Burren and similar areas in Clare and Galway. In contrast, the Cryptic Wood White Leptidea juvernica can be found throughout Ireland and continental Europe, but is absent from Britain.

Key identification features include:

  • Small size, wingspan: 40-42 mm
  • Can only be reliably differentiated from the Cryptic Wood White by dissection of their genitalia or genetic markers, therefore it is recommended to simply record Leptidea sp. in the field
  • 'Delicate' appearance with weak fluttering flight
  • Rounded wings with no bold markings
  • White with grey wing tips above and grey to light green beneath


Specialist on grassy forest clearings and limestone pavement.  Found in the Burren and in similar areas in Clare and around Lough  Corrib in Galway.  Adults fly in sunny conditions without a characteristic slow, flapping flight close to the ground, especially among tall herbs and in scrub. The males patrol territories, while the females spend much of their time on flowerheads, or searching for oviposition sites. In dull weather adults may be found resting on flowerheads (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Flight period

Univoltine: from April to July.  An occasional 2nd generation have been recorded in the Burren in late July and early August.

Life cycle

Eggs are laid directly onto the foodplant, usually beneath a leaflet or bract, with a preference shown for tall protruding plants. The larva feeds externally on the foliage, pupating around September. The pupa, which overwinters, is attached to an upright stem of a plant other than one of the foodplants, often on a grass stem (Bond & Gittings, 2008).

Food plants

The larva primarily feed on Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) and Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis), and occasionally on Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca).

Flowers visited

Generalist, the adult’s nectar sources include: Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) and Vetches (Vicia spp.) are also used.


World distribution(GBIF)

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.



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.

Dinca, V., Wiklund, C., Lukhtanov, V.A., Kodandaramaiah, U., Norén, K., Dapporto, L., Wahlberg, N., Vila, R. and Friberg, M. 2013. Reproductive isolation and patterns of genetic differentiation in a cryptic butterfly species complex. Journal of evolutionary biology, 26(10): 2095-2106.

Dinca, V., Lukhtanov, V. A., Talavera, G., & Vila, R. 2011. Unexpected layers of cryptic diversity in wood white Leptidea butterflies. Nature communications, 2: 324.

Nelson, B., Hughes, M., Nash, R., & Warren, M. 2001. Leptidea reali Reissinger 1989 (Lep.: Pieridae): a butterfly new to Britain and Ireland. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation 113(3): 97-101.

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.