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Small White (Pieris rapae)

On this page, we have made available all the information we have for this species

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Picture of Small White
© Eddie John

The Small White is a very common, widespread and wide-ranging species occurring almost anywhere, though particularly in the open countryside and gardens where it breeds on a wide range of crucifers, including cabbages. (For further details on this species see

Family : Pieridae

Status : Stable

Status details :
Status since 1976 is Stable with a decrease of -31.2%
Status over the last 20 years is Stable with a decrease of -9.1%
Status over the last 10 years is Stable with a decrease of -20.9%

Log collated index plot

Species Log Collated Index Plot

This chart shows the index of abundance (LCI = Log Collated Index) over time. It shows fluctuations in populations from year to year, and is scaled so that the average index over the whole series is equal to 2 (horizontal line). For greater detail about how this index is derived, click on the green question mark above.

Trend description :
Like the Large White the Small White has shown a relatively stable population on monitored sites since 1976 with a weak decline. However, unlike the Large White this decline has continued such that the short-term decline is still of weak decline possibly reflecting the fact that populations are not augmented by migrants like the Large White. The collated indices show large, often annual, fluctuations in abundance, particularly in the second generation.

This map shows the distribution between 1995 and 2016. Data is derived from the Butterflies for the New Millenium dataset via the NBN Gateway

Phenology plot
Species Phenology Plot

Phenology plot

This chart shows the average number of butterflies seen on transects between Arpil and October across all sites (fitted values from a Generalised Additive Model). The blue line gives average counts over the full BMS series (1976 to date) and the red line gives the average for the last year.

Species abundance map


This map shows symbols for the mean abundance at transect sites, with the colour of the symbol reflecting the level of abundance. Means are over all years. Grey background squares are the occupied cells as shown by the Butterflies for the New Millenium over the previous ten year period.


In total, Small White has been recorded from 903 transects in the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Of these, annual indices of abundance have been calculated from 1016 sites, with an average index of 61 individuals per site.

For 449 of these sites, Small White has been recorded well enough to calculate annual indices of abundance in more years, allowing trends to be calculated.

In 2019, 33289 individuals were recorded from 618 sites, producing annual indices at 475 of these.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is organized and funded by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The UKBMS is indebted to all volunteers who contribute data to the scheme.