Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Large White
Pieris brassicae  LINNAEUS, 1758
subfamily - PIERINAE
Pieris brassicae, Kalejnada, West Sikkim, India  Adrian Hoskins
There may be as many as 34 species of Pieris worldwide, although the status of some is uncertain. The commonest and most widespread species is rapae, which was originally restricted to Europe and temperate Asia but has been introduced by man to North America, Africa, s.e. Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The genus can be divided into 2 groups - the 'Large' Whites brassicae, cheiranthi, deota & tadjika; and the smaller species including rapae, 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 morphology.
The Large White, sometimes inaccurately referred to as the Cabbage White, is distributed across Europe including the Mediterranean islands and the sub-arctic areas of Scandinavia. It also occurs in north Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.
As with many other Pierines, the Large White is strongly migratory and thus occurs in a wide range of habitats. In India it occurs primarily in the Himalayan foothills, where it is found at elevations between about 500-2000m.
The larval foodplants include Cardamine, Lepidium, Raphanus, Brassica, Cleome, Alstonia, Arabis and Rorippa ( Brassicaceae ).
Adult behaviour

This species is usually found either singly or in two's and three's, flying in open glades, field edges, gardens, or along riverbanks. Both sexes visit a wide range of herbaceous flowers, fluttering from plant to plant and rarely settling for long.


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