Pieris rapae - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Pieris rapae mating, Crete - photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Pieris rapae


Pieris rapae is a butterfly of the family Pieridae on the island of Crete, Greece.

Scientific name

Pieris rapae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name

Small White


Family: Pieridae > Subfamily: Pierinae > Tribus: Pierini > Genus: Pieris


Male to female: 45-50 mm


The general color of the wings is white for both sexes.

On the forewing, on the upper side, the male has a black apical patch, one black spot, and another one paler in the postdiscal area, whereas females have two intense black spots. The underside is similar to the upperside, but with yellow colors near the apex.

On the hindwing, on the upper side, there is a small triangular mark, whilst the underside is nearly yellow-colored with grey shades for males and pale yellow to white colored with grey shades for females.

The next generations appear slightly different with more intense black marks and black colors near the apex, especially in females.


Pieris rapae in Crete can be found in open land, especially agricultural land, cities, seaside, rocky slopes, gardens, etc.


Early in the day, or in overcast conditions, basks with the wings half-open. It opens the wings when cloudy or in low temperatures and closed when sunny or in high temperatures.

Food plant

The larva feeds on Asteraceae and Brassicaceae plants.

Flight Period

The butterflies fly in 3-4 generations, all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

The females deposit the eggs singly on the host plants. After 4-8 days, the eggs hatch, and the larvae feed and develop through five instars in 10-14 days. When not feeding, the larvae lie along the ribs on the underside of the leaves.

The Small White adults are similar in both appearance and behavior to Pieris brassicae; however, the latter is generally much bigger, and the black apical patch on the forewing upperside, is more along the costa of the wing, than along the margin.


Least Concern (LC)

(*European Red List of Butterflies, 2010)