Small White

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Small White
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Pieridae
Tribe: Pierini
Genus: Pieris
Species: P. rapae
Binomial name
Pieris rapae
Linnaeus, 1758

The Small White (Pieris rapae) is a small to mid-sized butterfly of the Yellows and Whites Pieridae family. It is also commonly known as the small cabbage white or just the cabbage white.

Distribution[change | edit source]

It is common across Europe, North Africa and Asia and has also been accidentally introduced to North America, Australia and New Zealand where they have become pests on cultivated cabbages and other mustard family crops.

Description[change | edit source]

A female Cabbage White

It looks like a smaller version of the Large White. The upperside is creamy white with black tips to the forewings. Females also have two black spots in the center of the forewings. Its underwings are yellowish with black speckles.

Habits[change | edit source]

Like its close relative the Large White this is a strong flyer and the British population is increased by continental immigrants in most years. Like other "White" butterflies it hibernates as a pupa. Along with the Large White it is sometimes known as the Cabbage White or Cabbage Butterfly.

Lifecycle[change | edit source]

Copulation refusal action

It has two flight periods, April–May and July–August.

Eggs[change | edit source]

Its caterpillars can be a pest on cultivated cabbages, but it will lay eggs as well on wild members of the cabbage family such as Charlock Sinapis arvensis and Hedge Mustard Sisybrium officinale. The eggs are laid singularly on foodplant leaves.

Caterpillars[change | edit source]

Known in the United States as "Imported Cabbage Worms", the caterpillars are green and well camouflaged. Unlike the Large White they do not store the mustard oils from their foodplants and so are not distastful to predators like birds.

References[change | edit source]

  • Jim Asher et al. The Millennium Atlas of Britain and Ireland Oxford University Press
  • Evans, W.H. (1932) The Identification of Indian Butterflies. (2nd Ed.), Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India.
  • Gaonkar, Harish (1996) "Butterflies of the Western Ghats, India (Including Sri Lanka) - A Biodiversity Assessment of a Threatened Mountain System." Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society.
  • Gay, Thomas; Kehimkar, Isaac & Punetha, J.C. (1992) Common Butterflies of India. WWF-India and Oxford University Press, Mumbai, India.
  • Kunte, Krushnamegh (2005) Butterflies of Peninsular India. Universities Press.
  • Wynter-Blyth, M.A. (1957) Butterflies of the Indian Region, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India.