These are my own observations [unless stated]
The smallest of our native Whites, this dainty little insect can be found floating up and down the woodland rides of the Chiddingfold Wood complex. With its awkward unbalanced flight, the Wood White is quite unmistakable from any of Britain's other Whites.
There are two broods a year, the 1st brood normally fly from late April to late june and, the 2nd brood can be seen early July to late August. With both broods, the flying dates can vary, all depending on the great English weather.
The 1st and 2nd brood differ in appearance to one another. The easiest way to distinguish the male from the female of both broods is by the antenna, the male's antenna being white tipped as in the photo below and, the females being black. The males also have larger eyes than the females.
|1st brood males and females have a more heavily marked underside of the hind wings|
Photo, 1st brood male Wood White
|2nd brood males and females have much cleaner/whiter underside of the hind wings with less markings|
Photo, 2nd brood male Wood White
|The 1st brood males have a large grey spot on the tip of the forewing upper side|
|Photo, showing a typical 2nd brood male Wood White with a black spot, fading to grey|
around the edges, the black spot resembling the stripes of an army corporal. This spot
does fade with age.
|2nd brood female Wood White with no spot on the tips of the forewing upper sides|
| 2nd brood female Wood White depicting a grey spot on the tip of the forewing|
upper sides similar to that of a 1st brood male
|Photo 29.7.2015, two male Wood Whites roosting, clearly showing one male to be a lot smaller|
than the normal sized male on the right.
|Photo, two male Wood Whites taking salts/minerals from horse droppings|
Female Wood Whites do not fly so freely or as much as the males and, can quite often be found nestling in amongst the vegetation, even on a hot summers day. But once the females have been mated and are ready to lay their eggs [ovum] they are continually flying, looking for suitable plants, on which to lay her eggs. Such as Bird's-foot Trefoil, Meadow Vetchling, Tufted Vetch, and Bitter Vetch.
Courtship rituals or not..
I believe that there are two rituals performed by the Wood White. 1st, a very short courtship ritual, lasting just a few seconds that leads to the mating of a male and female. With the male sitting opposite the female, waving it's proboscis either side of the females head, and with both male and females opening and closing their wings, [ukbutterflies P. Eeles] which varies considerably with each courting couple. But this ritual is not always used before mating takes place, quite often copulation will take place without any courtship what so ever.
The 2nd ritual performed by the Wood White is much longer and, can last for several minutes. This ritual is performed by males on males and, males on females. This consists of a male hitting the butterfly opposite [whether a male or female] on the side of their wings with his proboscis, both butterflies open and close their wings and, as the butterfly opposite opens its wings fully, the male brings down his proboscis on the top of the opened wings. Again the opening and closing of the wings can vary as to how often this happens from one ritual performance to another. This particular ritual never ends in copulation. Why the Wood Whites perform this very popular ritual remains a mystery.
|Photo, two male Wood Whites performing the longer ritual of the two. This act|
between two males is is quite common, and really can't end in copulation.
|Photo, a male and female performing the same ritual as the two males in the above photo.|
The male hitting the female with his proboscis on the side of her wings and opening
his wings at the same.
The female rejection signal
It is said that the female Wood White has no rejection signal to warn off amorous males wanting to mate and, thats why they continually go through with these long rituals. But females do have a reject signal and, so ends this theory as to why the Wood Whites continually performs this longer ritual. A mystery to be solved...
|Photo, female Wood White clearly rejecting this male at his attempt to mate her, by raising|
her abdomen skywards in the same manner as other members of the White family do to
ward off any unwanted advances made by the males.
In copulation the female always takes charge, and is normally found to position herself slightly higher than the male when mating, [about 90% of the time]. This act normally lasts between 40-100 min. Within about two days of copulation the females are ready to lay their eggs [ovum].
|Photo, male and female 2nd brood Wood Whites copulating, August 13th 5.13pm|
The female is the top butterfly.
Wood White ovum and 1st instar larva 4.9.2015
Wood White 1st-5th instars 1.10.2015
Wood White pupa, [offspring of the 1st brood] 21.10.2015
Wood White pupa, [offspring of the 2nd brood 1] 21.10.2015
Wood White pupa, [off spring of the 2nd brood 2] 23.10.2015 All here on my blog. Thank you.