This butterfly lays its eggs on members of the pea family, particularly meadow vetchling, tufted vetch, greater bird's-foot-trefoil, common bird's-foot-trefoil and bitter-vetch. The eggs are laid in May, when the first brood of butterflies are on the wing, and they hatch in July. The wood white caterpillar is green with small black dots and has darker green stripes edged with yellow.
The male butterfly is more likely to be seen flying than the female. He searches for suitable mates along woodland rides and around the edges of scrub. Females spend most of their time feeding from flowers and, when the male finds a female, he performs a courtship display, nodding his head to and fro with his long tubular tongue extended.