North American Butterflies and Moths List

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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of New York

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
JPG -- species photo

Large White (Pieris brassicae [Linnaeus])

Wing span: 2 1/2 - 2 3/4 inches (6-7 cm).

Identification: Like a very large version of the Cabbage White.

Life history: Females lay masses of yellow eggs on undersides of host leaves. Caterpillar is gray-green green with black smudges ands short white hairs. Chrysalis is gray green with small yellow and black marks.

Flight: Two to three flights in Europe from April to October.

Caterpillar hosts: Cabbages, Brussel-sprouts, nasturtium.

Adult food: Flower nectar from a very wide array of plants including thistles and butterfly bush.

Habitat: Almost any type of open space especially vegetable gardens, roadsides, cities, and suburbs.

Range: Common native in temperate Eurasia. Rare stray or escape in North America.

Conservation: Not required.

Management needs: None needed for rare stray.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally.


Higgins, L.G. and N.D. Riley. 1970. A field guide to the butterflies of Britain 
     and Europe. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.369 pages.

Thomas, J.A., 1992. Butterflies of the British Isles. Hamlyn Press, London. 
     160 pp.

Author: Paul A. Opler

State and Regional References:

Cech, R. 1993.  A Distributional Checklist of the Butterflies and Skippers of 
     the New York City Area (50-mile Radius) and Long Island.  New York City 
     Butterfly Club Special Publication.  27 pp.

Forbes, W.T.M.  1960.  Lepidoptera of New York and Neighboring States.  Part 
     IV: Agaristidae through Nymphalidae Including Butterflies.  Cornell Univ. 
     Agricultural Experimental Station, Ithaca, N.Y.  Memoir 371.  188 pp.

Glassberg,  J.  1993.  Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to 
     Butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington Region.  Oxford Univ. Press, 
     New York, N.Y.  160 pp. 

Klass, C. and Dirig, R.  1992.  Learning about Butterflies.  Cornell Cooperative 
     Extension Publication, 4-H Member/Leader Guide 139-M-9.  Ithaca, N.Y.  
     36 pp.

Layberry, R.A., Hall, P.W. & Lafontaine, D.J., 1998.  The Butterflies of 
     Canada.  University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.  280 pp.
Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format.
     Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.      

Shapiro, A.M.  1974.  Butterflies and Skippers of New York State.  Cornell Univ.
     Agricultural Experimental Station, Ithaca, N.Y.  Search 4:1-60.   
Large White (Pieris brassicae)
distribution map
map legend

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