The Pieridae are a large family of butterflies with about 76 genera containing approximately 1,100 species, mostly from tropical Africa and tropical Asia. Most pierid butterflies are white, yellow or orange in coloration, often with black spots. The pigments that give the distinct colouring to these butterflies are derived from waste products in the body and are a characteristic of this family.
The sexes usually differ, often in the pattern or number of the black markings.
The Pieridae have the radial vein on the forewing with 3 or 4 branches and rarely with 5 branches. The fore legs are well developed in both sexes, unlike in the Nymphalidae, and the tarsal claws are bifid unlike in the Papilionidae.
- Dismorphiinae (6 genera) Mostly Neotropical, this group includes several mimetical species. The host plants are in the family Fabaceae.
- Pierinae (55 genera) Whites, Yellow, Orange-tips, many of these species are strongly migratory. Host plants are in the families Capparidaceae, Brassicaceae, Santalaceae, and Loranthaceae.
- 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.
- Pseudopontiinae The sole species in this subfamily, Pseudopontia paradoxa, is endemic to West Africa.
According to the molecular phylogenetic study of Braby et al. (2006), sister group relationships among Pieridae subfamilies are: ((Dismorphiinae+Pseudopontiinae)+(Coliadinae+Pierinae)).
Some popular species
- 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
Some pest species
- Colias eurytheme, Alfalfa butterfly or Orange Sulphur
- Colias philodice, Common or Clouded Sulphur
- Pieris rapae, Cabbage White
- Pieris brassicae, Large White or Cabbage White
- DeVries P. J. in Levin S.A. (ed) 2001 The Encyclopaedia of Biodiversity. Academic Press.
- Carter, David, Butterflies and Moths (2000)
- 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
- 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 - ci.nii.ac.jp
- 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)