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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Cladus: Eumetabola
Cladus: Endopterygota
Superordo: Panorpida
Cladus: Amphiesmenoptera
Ordo: Lepidoptera
Subordo: Glossata
Cladus: Coelolepida
Cladus: Myoglossata
Cladus: Neolepidoptera
Infraordo: Heteroneura
Cladus: Eulepidoptera
Cladus: Ditrysia
Cladus: Apoditrysia
Cladus: Obtectomera
Superfamilia: Papilionoidea

Familia: Pieridae
Subfamiliae (4): Coliadinae - Dismorphiinae - Pierinae - Pseudopontiinae


Pieridae Swainson, 1820.

Baumann, H. & Reissinger, E, 1969: Zur Tagfalterfauna des Chanchamayogebietes in Peru. Veröffentlichungen der Zoologischen Staatssammlung München, 013: 71- 142. Full article: [1].
Bollino, M., 2008: Two new species of Catasticta Butler, 1870 from Peru (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Genus 19 (3): 355–360. Full article [2]
Braby, M.F. 2005: Provisional checklist of genera of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea). Zootaxa, 832: 1–16. Abstract & excerpt
Braby, M.F., Vila, R. & Pierce, N.E. 2006. Molecular phylogeny and systematics of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea): higher classification and biogeography. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 147(2): 239–275. DOI: 10.1111/j.1096-3642.2006.00218.x Open access. Reference page.
Espeland, M., Breinholt, J.W., Willmott, K.R., Warren, A.D., Vila, R., Toussaint, E.F.A., Maunsell, S.C., Aduse-Poku, K., Talavera, G., Eastwood, R., Jarzyna, M.A., Guralnick, R., Lohman, D.J., Pierce, N.E. & Kawahara, A.Y. 2018. A Comprehensive and Dated Phylogenomic Analysis of Butterflies. Current Biology 28(5): 770–778. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.01.061 Reference page.
Ferris, C.D., 1972: Notes on certain species of Colias (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) found in Wyoming and associated regions. Bull. Allyn Museum 5: 1–23. Full article: [3]
Heikkilä, M., Kaila, L., Mutanen, M., Peña, C. & Wahlberg, N. 2011. Cretaceous origin and repeated tertiary diversification of the redefined butterflies. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279(1731): 1093–1099. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2011.1430 Open access. Reference page.
Lamas, G., 2004: Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera; Checklist: Part 4A; Hesperioidea-Papilionoidea
Wahlberg, N., Rota, J., Braby, M.F., Pierce, N.E. & Wheat, C.W. 2014. Revised systematics and higher classification of pierid butterflies (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) based on molecular data. Zoologica scripta 43(6): 641–650. DOI: 10.1111/zsc.12075 Paywall. Reference page.

Vernacular names
беларуская: Бялянкі
čeština: Běláskovití
English: Yellow-White Butterflies
español: Piérides
magyar: Fehérlepkék, fehérlepkefélék
հայերեն: Ճերմակաթիթեռներ
日本語: シロチョウ科
polski: Bielinkowate
русский: Белянки
српски / srpski: Лептир купусар
Türkçe: Beyaz ve sarı kelebekler
中文: 粉蝶科

The Pieridae are a large family of butterflies with about 76 genera containing about 1,100 species, mostly from tropical Africa and tropical Asia with some varieties in the more northern regions of North America and Eurasia.[1] Most pierid butterflies are white, yellow, or orange in coloration, often with black spots. The pigments that give the distinct coloring to these butterflies are derived from waste products in the body and are a characteristic of this family.[2] The family was created by William John Swainson in 1820.

The name "butterfly" is believed to have originated from a member of this family, the brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni, which was called the "butter-coloured fly" by early British naturalists.[2]

The sexes usually differ, often in the pattern or number of the black markings.

The larvae (caterpillars) of a few of these species, such as Pieris brassicae and Pieris rapae, commonly seen in gardens, feed on brassicas, and are notorious agricultural pests.

Males of many species exhibit gregarious mud-puddling behavior when they may imbibe salts from moist soils.[1]


The Pieridae have the radial vein on the forewing with three or four branches and rarely with five branches. The forelegs are well developed in both sexes, unlike in the Nymphalidae, and the tarsal claws are bifid, unlike in the Papilionidae.[3]

Like the Papilionidae, the Pieridae also have their pupae held at an angle by a silk girdle, but running at the first abdominal segment, unlike the thoracic girdle seen in the Papilionidae. But some species such as the madrone butterfly that belong to this family do not shows the presence of this abdominal silk girdle.[4]

The Pieridae are generally divided into these four subfamilies:

Dismorphiinae (six genera), mostly Neotropical; this group includes several mimetic species. The host plants are in the family Fabaceae.[1]
Pierinae (55 genera), whites, yellows, and orange-tips; many of these species are strongly migratory. Host plants are in the families Capparidaceae, Brassicaceae, Santalaceae, and Loranthaceae.[1]
Coliadinae (14 genera), sulphurs or yellows; many of these species are sexually dimorphic. Some, such as Colias, have wing patterns that are visible only under ultraviolet.[1]
Pseudopontiinae includes only the genus Pseudopontia, which was formerly considered monotypic. Its type species—formerly the sole species in this subfamily—Pseudopontia paradoxa, is endemic to West Africa.

According to the molecular phylogenetic study of Braby et al. (2005),[5] sister group relationships among Pieridae subfamilies are ((Dismorphiinae + Pseudopontiinae) + (Coliadinae + Pierinae)).
Some popular species
Clouded yellow, Colias croceus

Brimstone, Gonepteryx rhamni
California dogface, Zerene eurydice
Catalina orangetip, Anthocharis cethura catalina
Cloudless sulphur, Phoebis sennae
Clouded yellow, Colias croceus
Orange tip, Anthocharis cardamines
Psyche butterfly, Leptosia nina

Psyche butterfly, Leptosia nina
Some pest species

Colias eurytheme, alfalfa butterfly or orange sulphur

Pieris brassicae, large white or cabbage white

Colias philodice clouded sulphur
Pieris rapae, small white or cabbage white
Pieris brassicae, large white or cabbage white

See also

List of butterflies of India (Pieridae)
List of British butterflies


DeVries P. J. in Levin S.A. (ed) 2001 The Encyclopaedia of Biodiversity. Academic Press.
Carter, David (2000). Butterflies and Moths.
Borror, D. J.; Triplehorn, C. A. & Johnson, N. F. (1989). An Introduction to the Study of Insects (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishers. ISBN 0-03-025397-7
Kevan, P. G.; Bye, R. A. (1991). "The natural history, sociobiology, and ethnobiology of Eucheira socialis Westwood (Lepidoptera: Pieridae), a unique and little-known butterfly from Mexico". Entomologist. ISSN 0013-8878.

Braby, M. F. (2005). "Provisional checklist of genera of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae)". Zootaxa. 832: 1–16. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.832.1.1.

Further reading

Braby, M. F. 2005. Provisional checklist of genera of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionidae). Zootaxa 832: 1–16.
Braby, M., R. Vila, and N. E. Pierce. 2006. Molecular phylogeny and systematics of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea: higher classification and biogeography. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 147(2): 239-275.
Carter, David. 2000. Butterflies and Moths (2/ed). Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-2707-7.
A New Subspecies of Eurema andersoni (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) from South India, O YATA, H GAONKAR - Entomological science, 1999 -
Glassberg, Jeffrey Butterflies through Binoculars, The West (2001)
James, David G. and Nunnallee, David Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies (2011)
Pyle, Robert Michael The Butterflies of Cascadia (2002)

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