Leptidea sinapis (NL: Boswitje / EN: Wood White / DE: Senfweißling / FR: Piéride de la moutarde, Piéride du lotier) is a butterfly of the Pieridae family. It is one of our daintiest butterflies with one of the slowest and delicate flights of all the Belgian butterflies. When at rest, the rounded tips of the forewings provide one of the main distinguishing features between this butterfly and other “whites”. Adults always rest with their wings closed. In flight, the male can be distinguished from the female by a black spot at the tip of the forewings that is greatly reduced in the female. Second brood individuals have reduced markings and the females, in particular, may have almost no black scales. This butterfly lives discrete colonies and was only recently separated from the visibly-identical Leptidea juvernica and Leptidea reali - forming a cryptic species complex with those species. Males are the more active of the two sexes and can be found patrolling for females, rarely stopping to rest or feed, especially in sunny weather. On dull days, the butterfly will rest on the underside of a leaf with its wings closed and, when disturbed, the butterfly will fly into thick undergrowth. The courtship of this butterfly is an amazing spectacle. Male and female face each other with wings closed and intermittently flash open their wings. At the same time, the male waves his proboscis and white-tipped antennae either side of the female’s head. If the female is receptive to these signals, the female bends her abdomen toward the male and the pair mate, staying coupled for around 30 minutes.
The specimen in the image is resting on Cephalanthera damasonium, a species belonging to the European terrestrial orchids.
Image: Leptidea sinapis – Visé (BE) – 17/05/2012
© Johan Dierckx
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