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Large White (Pieris brassicae)

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

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Picture of Large White
© Eddie John

The Large White is a widespread and common mobile species that may be seen anywhere but is particularly associated with gardens, allotments and cabbage fields where its foodplants, notably brassicas, grow. (For further details on this species see

Family : Pieridae

Status : Rapid decline

Status details :
Status since 1976 is Rapid decline with a decrease of -37.7%
Status over the last 20 years is Stable with a decrease of -14.0%
Status over the last 10 years is Stable with a decrease of -42.4%

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 :
Populations of all three of our most common and widespread whites are stable, having shown only a small non-significant decline since 1976. These declines are apparent in many cases on a site by site basis. However numbers recorded have increased at some sites and may be a reflection of where nectar sources have increased. This is a wide ranging butterfly that will seek out and congregate in such places. The general decline may reflect a reduction in the growing of Brassicas that are not protected with insecticides but we have no evidence to support this. Counteracting, and potentially masking these declines, Large white populations are regularly supplemented by influxes of migrant individuals from the continent. 2009, the second best UKBMS year for Painted Lady also saw a large influx of Large Whites which has aided this species in showing a weakly positive short-term trend.

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, Large White has been recorded from 899 transects in the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Of these, annual indices of abundance have been calculated from 1021 sites, with an average index of 36 individuals per site.

For 454 of these sites, Large White has been recorded well enough to calculate annual indices of abundance in more years, allowing trends to be calculated.

In 2018, 19860 individuals were recorded from 613 sites, producing annual indices at 470 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.