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Butterflies of North America

Butterflies of Pennsylvania

West Virginia White (Pieris virginiensis)
JPG -- species photo

West Virginia White (Pieris virginiensis [W. H. Edwards])

Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/8 inches (4.5 - 5.3 cm).

Identification: Wings are translucent, whitish, with no yellowish tint underneath. Underside of hindwings with blurry brown or pale gray scaling along veins.

Life history: Males patrol slowly to locate females. Eggs are laid singly on undersides of host plant leaves. Chrysalids hibernate on stems or plant litter under the plant.

Flight: In the North, one flight in May; in the South, one flight from April-May.

Caterpillar hosts: Toothworts (Dentaria diphylla and D. laciniata) in the mustard (Brassicaceae) family.

Adult food: Flower nectar from toothworts, spring beauty, violets, and other plants.

Habitat: Moist deciduous woodlands or mixed woods.

Range: Northern Great Lakes states and from New England southwest along the Appalachians to north Georgia and northeast Alabama.

Conservation: A species of native, relatively undisturbed habitats. Declining due to timbering, development, and spread of garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis).

Management needs: Control spread of garlic mustard. Ensure timbering intensity allows recovery of sufficient habitats on local scale.

The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure globally, though it might be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.


Brownell, V. R. 1981. The West Virginia White Butterfly (Artogeia 
     virginiensis Edwards) in Canada: a status report. Nongame Program, 
     Wildlife Branch, Ontario Ministry of Natural  Resources, Toronto, 
     Ontario, Canada.

Mainguy, S. K. and M. J. Sharp. 1989. THe status of the West Virginia White 
     Butterfly (Artogeia virginiensis) in Ontario.  The Landplan 
     Collaborative Ltd., Guelph, Ontario, Canada.

Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the  Great Plains.
     Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates.

Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern  butterflies. 
     Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co.,  Boston. 396 pages, 
     48 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford  University 
     Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

State and Regional References:

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.

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. 1966.  Butterflies of the Delaware Valley.  American Entomological
     Society Special Publication.  Philadelphia, PA.  79 pp. 

Tietz, H.M.  1952.  The Lepidoptera of Pennsylvania.  The Pennsylvania State 
     College School of Agriculture Agricultural Experiment Station.  State 
     College, PA.  194 pp.

Wright, D.M.  1995,  Atlas of Pennsylvania Butterflies. Special Private 
     Publication, Lansdale, PA.  22 pp.
West Virginia White (Pieris virginiensis)
distribution map
map legend

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