Lathyrus Odoratus

By lathyrus

Wood Whites

The Wood White is an extraordinary butterfly and one of my favourites. It flies more like a demoiselle damselfly - all flutter and little progress. It was my 20th species for this season. Sadly it is in serious decline and there are very few colonies left in Britain. It is famous for its amazing courtship display which you can see here: I was lucky enough to witness this half a dozen times this morning. The male is on the right, it has a little white mark behind the antenna. Rather confusingly it was known as the Small White in the early 18th century. Petiver confused things even more by giving the male (small white wood) and female (white small tipped) different names. At the end of the century it became the Wood Lady, which is rather nice. In 1852 someone called Wood decided it should be called the White Wood!.And now its known as the Wood White, the name ascribed to it by the artist Moses Harris who was responsible for many of the names we use today. One he wasn't responsible for was the French - La Piéride de la moutarde  - which seems just wrong.

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