Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Tribe - PIERINI
Sichuan, China ©
There are 30
species of Aporia, the majority of
which are limited to Tibet, Mongolia and China.
and most widespread species is crataegi
which occurs across most of Europe and east across temperate Asia to
Kamchatka and Japan.
This species is found on scrubby grassland, along roadsides, around
woodland and field edges, in sub-alpine woodland / hay meadow
mosaics and other open habitats where the foodplants grow. It tends
to be most abundant in drier habitats, and can be found at
elevations between 0-1600m.
The eggs are laid in batches of between 50-200 on the underside of
leaves of blackthorn bushes Prunus spinosa
more rarely on hawthorn Crataegus (
They are spindle-shaped, with numerous vertical ribs, and bright
yellow in colour.
The caterpillars hatch in July, feed for a while, and enter
hibernation in September. They awaken and resume feeding in March or
April. Throughout the early instars they live within a communal web of
silk, spun on the foodplant. As they grow they split into smaller
groups and spin new webs, continuing their gregarious existence until
the final instar when they split up and become solitary.
When fully grown the caterpillar is sparsely covered in soft hairs,
and is black above, with orange-brown subdorsal stripes. The lower
half of the body is off-white.
The chrysalis is attached vertically by the cremaster and a silken
girdle to a twig or branch, on or near the foodplant. It is white,
heavily suffused with yellow, with black streaks on the thorax and
wing cases, and black spots all over the abdomen.
The adults fly from May to early August.
Both sexes nectar at a wide variety of flowers including ox-eye
daisies, scabious, thistles, clovers,
vipers bugloss, self-heal, valerian, lavender and various vetches.
Males commonly visit sources of mineral-rich moisture such as
urine-tainted soil, dung, and the edges of shallow stagnant pools. In
Siberia the butterflies often aggregate in thousands to drink at the
edges of shallow streams.
I have not observed the courtship, but have often found copulated
pairs late in the morning, sitting on flowerheads. The butterflies are
quite nervous - if disturbed while mating they take flight, with the
male carrying the female. They usually resettle a short distance away
on another flower head.