Country Corner - A cabbage white? Why not take a closer look?

The female Large White is one of seven common species of white butterfly.
The female Large White is one of seven common species of white butterfly.

No doubt you have heard of the Cabbage White butterfly, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

It seems everyone can identify this familiar insect.

Well, no actually.

There is in fact no such thing as a Cabbage White.

It is a name folk give to any white butterfly they see, when, in fact, there are four common species of white butterfly locally.

All of those four tend to be called Cabbage Whites by the public.

For instance, this one is a female Large White.

That’s another problem, male and female white butterflies are markedly different in appearance, turning the four into eight.

The species involved are Large White, Small White, Green Veined White and Orange Tip.

To confuse matters further, only the female Orange Tip is confused as a white – the male has orange wing tips.

Yes, I know that now makes seven, but there is an eighth, the ‘Flyby White’.

Fly by White is the name used during butterfly counts for any white which flies by without being identified!

A couple of factors make it a bit easier.

Large Whites can generally be recognised by their greater size and Orange Tips are a spring species, so are no longer flying at this time of year.

That leaves the Small White and Green Veined White as the most confusing two.

To be certain the surveyor will wait till the insect lands to identify it. Otherwise it will be counted as a Flyby.

So, there you have it – the very butterflies you would expect to be easily identified can in fact be the most difficult.

On the other hand, the many coloured species you might expect to pose most difficulty are in fact the easy ones!

Either way, don't let me put you off.