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Wood White (Leptidea sinapis)

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

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Picture of Wood White
© Eddie John

In Britain, the Wood White is a declining and highly localised butterfly occurring in discrete colonies in tall grassland where vetches grow in sheltered situations such as woodland rides and glades. (For further details on this species see

Family : Pieridae

Status : Rapid decline

Status details :
Status since 1979 is Rapid decline with a decrease of -88.2%
Status over the last 20 years is Stable with a decrease of -38.4%
Status over the last 10 years is Stable with a increase of 26%

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 :
The data show a significant decline in abundance over the series, although much of the early data came from only a limited number of sites and short-term trends show stable population levels with non-significant decline. The Wood White, originally considered as single brooded has also shown an increasing tendency to produce a second brood on the majority of UKBMS sites when the weather is suitbaly warm enough. However, once stable populations such as that at Whitecross Green Wood in Oxfordshire have declined substantially and are feared lost with no Wood Whites recorded on the transect for 2 years running. Substantial colonies on UKBMS sites are now confined to Hereford and Worcester, Shropshire and East Sussex and this UK BAP priority species is of great conservation concern.

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, Wood White has been recorded from 184 transects in the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Of these, annual indices of abundance have been calculated from 62 sites, with an average index of 28 individuals per site.

For 38 of these sites, Wood White has been recorded well enough to calculate annual indices of abundance in more years, allowing trends to be calculated.

In 2018, 804 individuals were recorded from 21 sites, producing annual indices at 12 of these.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is organized and funded by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the 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.