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Butterflies of temperate Asia
Black-veined White
Aporia crataegi  LINNAEUS, 1758
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Tribe - PIERINI
Aporia crataegi, Sichuan, China   Tony Hoare
Introduction
There are 30 species of Aporia, the majority of which are limited to Tibet, Mongolia and China.
The commonest and most widespread species is crataegi which occurs across most of Europe and east across temperate Asia to Kamchatka and Japan.
Habitats
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.
Lifecycle

The eggs are laid in batches of between 50-200 on the underside of leaves of blackthorn bushes Prunus spinosa or more rarely on hawthorn Crataegus ( Rosaceae ). 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.

Adult behaviour

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.

 

 

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