Butterflies of Europe
Southern Small White
Family - PIERIDAE
subfamily - PIERINAE
Tribe - PIERINI
There may be as
many as 34 species of Pieris worldwide,
although the status of some is uncertain and they may turn out to be
merely subspecies. The commonest and most widespread species is
rapae, which was originally restricted
to Europe and temperate Asia but has been introduced by man ( either
deliberately or accidentally ) to North America, Africa, south-east
Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The genus can be divided into 2
groups - the "Large" Whites brassicae,
& tadjika; and the smaller species
mannii, napi and
canidia which have more rounded
fore-wings. Some taxonomists place the latter group into a distinct
genus Artogeia, citing characteristics
including chromosome number, ovipositing behaviour and larval
The Southern Small White is difficult
to distinguish from it's much more common and widespread relative
Pieris rapae, but compared to that
species the dark apical mark is more squarish, and extends further
down the outer margin. In mannii the
outer edge of the black spot
on the forewing is straight or concave rather than rounded.
Another difference is that Pieris mannii
has a suffused darkish patch of scales near the apex of the
hindwing, which is duller and more heavily dusted in grey scales
than in rapae.
On the upper forewings, females of both
species have 2 spots arranged like a colon, rather than the single
spot as illustrated in the males above. Summer brood adults of both
species are more heavily marked than those of the spring generation.
Pieris mannii is found in Morocco,
southern & central Spain, southern France, Italy ( incl. Sicily ),
Croatia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and east to
This species is found in hot, arid, rocky habitats, most commonly at
altitudes between sea level and about 1200m, but has been recorded
as high as 2000m in the Middle Atlas mountains.
males, Velebit mts, Croatia,
The Southern Small White produces 2 or 3 broods a year, and can be
found almost continuously from March to October; except in the Atlas
mountains where it is univoltine, emerging in July.
The eggs are laid singly on leaves of candytuft
Iberis sempervirens and I. saxatilis.
The butterflies have a strong and direct flight, interrupted by
periodic feeding bouts.
Females nectar at a wide variety of flowers including marjoram,
thistles and valerian. Males are more often seen drinking at seepages,
urine-tainted soil or along the shoreline of rocky streams, where they
often congregate in groups of a dozen or more.