from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Small cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae)

Small cabbage white butterfly ( Pieris rapae )

Class : Insects (Insecta)
Order : Butterflies (Lepidoptera)
Subordination : Glossata
Superfamily : Papilionoidea
Family : Whites
Scientific name
Duponchel , 1832
Aurora butterfly ( Anthocharis cardamines ) ♂

The white flies (Pieridae) are a family of the butterflies (Lepidoptera) and occur worldwide with about 1000 species . The German name comes from the basic color of one of its most famous representatives, the small cabbage white butterfly ( Pieris rapae ), but this family also includes many species with a yellow basic color, such as. B. the well-known brimstone butterfly ( Gonepteryx rhamni ).


The moths reach a wingspan of 40 to 72 millimeters and have a slim to moderately built body. Their forewings are wide and only about 1.5 to 1.85 times as long as they are wide. The broadly rounded hind wings are about the same width as the forewings. The wing base color is usually white, cream or yellow. Some types, such as B. the males of the aurora butterfly ( Anthocharis cardamines ), but have brightly colored wing areas in addition to the basic color. Appias nero is even completely red in color. Others imitate inedible moths with their coloring ( Batessche mimicry ). The lateral (lateral) chitin plates of the pronotum are the only ones in this family that have not grown together. The antennae , club-shaped, thickened at the tip, are medium-long and reach a third to about half the length of the forewing. The animals have no maxillary palps , their proboscis are fully developed. All six legs are fully developed. The species of white flies are the only butterfly family to have forked claws on the tarsi of the front legs. The moths show a sexual dichroism , which means that the males are colored differently than the females.

The fore wings have 10, 11 or 12 wing veins with an anal vein (1b). The hind wings have 9 veins with two anal veins (1a and 1b).

The caterpillars are well camouflaged on the one hand with green or brown tones, on the other hand they are conspicuously colored in warning colors, as some species feed on poisonous plants and are thus themselves poisonous. They have fully developed pairs of belly legs and are short or long hairy.


With the exception of the Antarctic, whites are distributed almost worldwide. Specialized species occur in high mountains and also in desert areas. They reach their greatest biodiversity in the tropical regions of Africa and Asia . They were not originally native to New Zealand , but a European species ( Pieris rapae ) was introduced.

Way of life

Doll tree white body ( Aporia crataegi )
Great Cabbage White caterpillars ( Pieris brassicae )
Brimstone Butterfly ( Gonepteryx rhamni )
Postillon ( Colias croceus )
Reseda whiteling ( Pontia edusa )

The moths are diurnal and, as sun and heat-loving animals, like to be found in open-land habitats. They need a lot of liquid, which is why you can often see them sucking in large groups in puddles and other damp places.

The eggs are spindle-shaped and predominantly white, yellow, orange or red in color. The caterpillars mostly feed oligophagous on cruciferous and butterflies . They pupate as belt dolls , which are attached to a belt thread and at the rear end without a web.

Whites and Man

So far only one species is known ( Eucheira socialis ) whose caterpillars live together in a web. This species is grown for food in southern Mexico . The Aztecs even made paper from their silk threads.

Among the whites there are species that can appear as pests in agriculture . These are the species of the genus Pieris on cabbage and those of the genus Colias on alfalfa .


The whites occur in the German-speaking countries (A, CH, D) in three subfamilies with 26 species. They are represented by 51 species throughout Europe. A fourth subfamily, the Pseudopontiinae, includes only one genus ( Pseudopontia ) that occurs in Central and West Africa.

Central European species

Subfamily Dismorphiinae

  • Mustard white , Leptidea sinapis (Linnaeus, 1758) A, CH, D
  • Reals mustard white , Leptidea reali Reissinger, 1989; Little is known about the exact distribution. Presumably only distributed in a small area from the Spanish-French Pyrenees to Italy.
  • Leptidea juvernica Williams, 1946 A, CH, D
  • Eastern mustard white butterfly Leptidea morsei Fenton, 1882 A

Subfamily Pierinae (common whites)

Tribe Anthocharini

Tribus Pierini

Subfamily Coliadinae (Gelblinge)

Tribe Coliadini

Gonepterygini tribe

Brimstone butterfly

More types

Web links

Commons : Weißlinge  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e N. P. Kristensen: Lepidoptera, Moths and Butterflies, 1: Evolution, Systematics, and Biogeography . In: Handbook of Zoology . tape 4 , no. 35 . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, New York 2003, ISBN 3-11-015704-7 , pp. 279 ff .
  2. Tom Tolman, Richard Lewington: The butterflies of Europe and Northwest Africa . Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-440-07573-7 , p. 28 .
  3. Pieridae. Lepiforum eV, accessed on February 3, 2007 .
  4. Pieridae. Fauna Europaea, accessed February 3, 2007 .
  5. Michael F. Braby, Roger Vila, Naomi E. Pierce (2006): Molecular phylogeny and systematics of the Pieridae (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea): higher classification and biogeography. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 147: 239-275. doi : 10.1111 / j.1096-3642.2006.00218.x