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British Green Veined White Butterflies
A circumboreal species widespread across Europe and Asia, including the Indian subcontinent, Japan, the Maghreb and North America. It is found in meadows, hedgerows and woodland glades but not as often in gardens and parks like its close relatives the large and small whites, for which it is often mistaken. Like other "white" butterflies, the sexes differ. The female has two spots on each forewing, the male only one. The veins on the wings of the female are usually more heavily marked. The underside hindwings are pale yellow with the veins highlighted by black scales giving a greenish tint, hence green-veined white. Unlike the large and small whites, it rarely chooses garden cabbages to lay its eggs on, preferring wild crucifers. Males emit a sex pheromone that is perceptible to humans, citral, the basic flavor-imparting component of lemon peel oil. Some authors consider the mustard white and West Virginia white of North America to be conspecific with P. napi or consider P. napi to be a superspecies. Despite this, the American butterflies, unlike P. napi, cannot successfully use garlic mustard as a host plant. Females will lay eggs on it, mistaking this non-native species for a compatible native mustard, resulting in the death of the offspring. Classification is also an issue concerning the European dark-veined white.
The eggs are laid singly on a wide range of food plants including hedge mustard (Sisybrium officinale), garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), cuckooflower (Cardamine pratense), water-cress (Rorippa nastutium-aquaticum), charlock (Sinapis arvensis), large bitter-cress (Cardamine amara), wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea), and wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), and so it is rarely a pest in gardens or field crops. The caterpillar is green and well camouflaged. When full grown it is green above with black warts, from which arise whitish and blackish hairs. There is a darker line along the back and a yellow line low down on the sides. Underneath the colour is whitish-grey. The spiracular line is dusky but not conspicuous, and the spiracles are blackish surrounded with yellow. There is extensive overlap with other leaf-feeding larvae of large and small whites in some wild populations (e.g. in Morocco). It is often found feeding on the same plant as the orange tip but rarely competes for food because it usually feeds on the leaves whereas the orange tip caterpillar feeds on the flowers and developing seed pods. Like other Pieris species it overwinters as a pupa. This is green in colour, and the raised parts are yellowish and brown. This is the most frequent form, but it varies through yellowish to buff or greyish, and is sometimes without markings.
In Great Britain, April, May and June specimens have the veins tinged with grey and rather distinct, but are not so strongly marked with black as those belonging to the second flight, which occurs in late July and throughout August. This seasonal variation, as it is called, is also most clearly exhibited on the underside. In the May and June butterfly (plate 13, left side) the veins below are greenish grey, and those of the hindwings are broadly bordered also with this colour. In the bulk of the July and August specimens (plate 13, right side) only the nervures are shaded with greenish grey, and the nervures are only faintly, or not at all, marked with this colour. Now and then a specimen of the first brood may assume the characters properly belonging to the specimens of the second brood; and, on the other hand, a butterfly of the second brood may closely resemble one of the first brood. As a rule, however, the seasonal differences referred to are fairly constant. By rearing this species from the egg it has been ascertained that part (sometimes the smaller) of a brood from eggs laid in June attains the butterfly stage the same year, and the other part remains in the chrysalis until the following spring, the butterflies in each set being of the form proper to the time of emergence.
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