West Virginia White Butterfly

West Virginia White Butterfly Photo Credit: Rick Snider

Pieris virginiensis

Status:

  • COSEWIC – Not at risk.
  • COSSARO – Special concern.

Description:

  • Unlike the Monarch, this butterfly is easily overlooked. It is only 3-4 cm in size and is dingy white.
  • Wings have a translucent appearance and on the underside of the hind wing, the veins have grey-brown scaling.
  • Caterpillars are yellow-green with a green stripe along each side.

Habits and Reproduction:

  • One of the first butterflies active in the spring.
  • Larva feed only on the leaves of toothwort which is a small spring blooming plant.

Habitat:

  • Moist deciduous woodlots.

Garlic Mustard is considered to be one of the most invasive exotic plants in Ontario.

Threats:

  • Known only in roughly 50 sites in Ontario, it was likely never common in the province.
  • Habitat changes at some sites have negatively affected the population.
  • Garlic Mustard is considered to be one of the most invasive exotic plants in Ontario.
  • Known only in roughly 50 sites in Ontario, it was likely never common in the province.
  • Habitat changes at some sites have negatively affected the population.
  • Garlic mustard is an invasive plant species that may seriously harm this species. The mustard plant is related to the toothwort. When the butterfly lays eggs on Garlic Mustard, the eggs will hatch but the young will not feed on the mustard and die.

Conservation Actions:

Click here for more information.

Map image courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum