These are often the first butterflies that we come across, as, taken as a group, they can be very common indeed over the summer months. They seem to wander particularly widely, and are often the commonest butterflies seen in gardens. They also seem to greatly appreciate the Oil-See Rape crops commonly planted in the arable fields of theg parish.
The true Whites are the Orange-tip, the Green-veined White, the Small White and the Large White. All these true Whites feed as larvae on various plants that are members of the large Brassica family. The chemicals absorbed may be passed on from the larvae to the adult butterflies to give a bitter taste to act as a deterrent to predators.
The orange tip is seen primarily in spring and the larvae feed on hedge garlic or cuckoo flower. The Green-veined White feeds on a variety of wild Brassicas such as Charlock or Large Bitter-Cress. These two are therefore not so much of a problem to farmers and gardeners.
The Small White larva primarily feeds singly within the heart of cabbages and is hated by Brassica farmers, and also on Nasturtium in the garden, while the Large White, the absolute bane of vegetable gardeners, feeds on the outer leaves of cabbages and a range of other Brassica crops.
Also included, but not central to the group, is the Brimstone, which is primarily a woodland butterfly. The Brimstone larva feeds off Common Buckthorn on neutral to alkaline soil, and Alder Buckthorn on more acidic soils.