Whites and Sulphurs (Pieridae)

The Pieridae, also known as the white and sulphurs has a large family consisting of about 76 genera as well as 1100 species that are medium in size. The bright colorations of most members of this group make them appear increasingly appealing.

Butterflies in This Family

Clouded Yellow Butterfly Clouded Yellow Butterfly Checkered White
Dappled White Clouded Sulphur Little Yellow Butterfly
Green-veined White Butterfly Orange Sulphur Sleepy Orange Butterfly
Orange-tip Butterfly Cloudless Sulphur California Dogface Butterfly
Brimstone Butterfly

Description and Identification

Caterpillar

Most of the larvae in this family are cylindrical-shaped with a yellow or green body, filled with hairy projections or small black bumps. Though the caterpillar of certain species may have a different appearance like the cabbage white species are bluish-green, having black rings or pints on their body.

Pupa

The chrysalis has a green body, often remaining concealed within leaves.

Adult

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: Most butterflies belonging to this family have a yellow, orange, or white body with spots of black on their forewings. However, the difference in wing patterns may vary according to the species. The dogface butterfly has sharply pointed wings while the orange and yellow sulphurs have rounded wings which are orange and lemon yellow respectively. The spots and patterns vary in males and females.

Average wingspan: 3cm to 6cm on an average (1.18 inches to 2.36 inches)

Flight pattern: Low, looping and zig zag

Eggs

They are of a yellowish-green color, being spindle-shaped.

Quick Facts

Distribution Parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and America
Habitat Meadows, forest edges, hedgerow, agricultural areas, roadsides, scrub, open and damp woodlands
Lifespan of adults Less than a year
Host plants Senecio jacobaea, Carduus spp, Chamaecrista fasciculate, Nasturtium officinale,  plants of the Brassicaceae family,
Adult diet Nectar of host plants

Did You Know

  • The butterflies of the white and sulphurs have four subfamilies.
  • Since they have white and yellow wings, they have attained their name “white and sulphurs.”