Cryptic Wood White

  • Cryptic Wood White
    Cryptic Wood White

Scientific name: Leptidea juvernica

As its name suggests, this butterfly is very difficult to distinguish from the Wood White.

The Cryptic Wood White only occurs in Ireland, where it is widespread. It was discovered to be different from the Wood White in 2001 and, more recently, its identification was changed again to this new name. The Wood White is very similar, but seems to be restricted to the Burren region in Ireland.

The upperwings are white with rounded edges. The male has a black mark in the edge of the forewing, which is much less evident in the female. The undersides are white, with indistinct grey or greenish markings.

The male seldom rests or feeds, as it is chiefly concerned in searching for females. When the eeather is dull, this butterfly will rest with its wings closed, underneath leaves.

The pale yellow eggs are oval with a tapered end, and laid singly underneath leaves.

The caterpillar emerges from the egg after around two weeks and it is superbly camouflaged against its foodplant. It moults four times before turning into a chysalis.

This species spends most of its life as a chrysalis. It is pale green with pink veins and wing edges.

Size and Family

  • Family: Whites and yellows
  • Size: Medium  
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 42mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Medium
  • Protected under Schedule 5 of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act (for sale only)
  • European threat status: Not threatened

Caterpillar Foodplants

The foodplants are not well known, but include various legumes such as Meadow Vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis), Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca), Common Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), and Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil (L. pedunculatus).



This butterfly can be found in a wide range of open habitats with lush grass including rough grassland, road and rail verges, disused quarries and hedgerows.


  • Countries: Ireland
  • In the UK this species is only found in Northern Ireland
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s: Not assessed

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