Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Pieris brassicae
(large cabbage white)



Pieris brassicae (large cabbage white)


  • Last modified
  • 04 December 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Pieris brassicae
  • Preferred Common Name
  • large cabbage white
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female at rest on leaf.
TitleAdult female
CaptionPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female at rest on leaf.
Copyright©S. Sepp/wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female at rest on leaf.
Adult femalePieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female at rest on leaf.©S. Sepp/wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult male. Museum set specimen.
TitleAdult male
CaptionPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult male. Museum set specimen.
Copyright©Sarefo/Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult male. Museum set specimen.
Adult malePieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult male. Museum set specimen.©Sarefo/Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female. Museum set specimen.
TitleAdult female
CaptionPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female. Museum set specimen.
Copyright©Sarefo/Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female. Museum set specimen.
Adult femalePieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); adult female. Museum set specimen.©Sarefo/Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); egg mass.
CaptionPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); egg mass.
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); egg mass.
EggsPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); egg mass.©AgrEvo
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); small larvae.
CaptionPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); small larvae.
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); small larvae.
LarvaePieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); small larvae.©AgrEvo
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); final instar larva, from oilseed rape plants (Brassica napus var. napus). Kent, UK. November, 2014.
TitleFinal instar larva
CaptionPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); final instar larva, from oilseed rape plants (Brassica napus var. napus). Kent, UK. November, 2014.
Copyright©CABI/Phil Taylor-2014
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); final instar larva, from oilseed rape plants (Brassica napus var. napus). Kent, UK. November, 2014.
Final instar larvaPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); final instar larva, from oilseed rape plants (Brassica napus var. napus). Kent, UK. November, 2014.©CABI/Phil Taylor-2014
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); chrysalis (pupa).
CaptionPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); chrysalis (pupa).
Pieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); chrysalis (pupa).
PupaPieris brassicae (large white or cabbage white butterfly); chrysalis (pupa).©AgrEvo


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Pieris brassicae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • large cabbage white

Other Scientific Names

  • Mancipium brassicae Linnaeus
  • Papilio brassicae Linnaeus
  • Pontia brassicae Linnaeus
  • Pontia chariclea Stephens

International Common Names

  • English: cabbage caterpillar; cabbage white; cabbage worm; great white butterfly; great white cabbage butterfly; large garden white butterfly; large white butterfly; large white cabbage butterfly; white butterfly, large
  • Spanish: aruga de la col; gran mariposa blanca de la col; gusano de las hojas de hortaliza; oruga verde de la col
  • French: grand papillon blanc du chou; piéride du chou
  • Portuguese: lagarta da couve

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: kalsommerfugl, stor; stor kalsommerfugl
  • Finland: kaaliperhonen
  • Germany: Grosser Kohlweissling; Weissling, Grosser Kohl-
  • Israel: lavnin hakruv hagadol
  • Italy: cavolaia; cavolaia maggiore
  • Netherlands: Grote Koolwitje; Koolwitje, grote
  • Norway: kalsommerfugl, stor
  • Sweden: kalfjaeril
  • Turkey: lahana kelebegi

EPPO code

  • PIERBR (Pieris brassicae)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Pieridae
  •                             Genus: Pieris
  •                                 Species: Pieris brassicae

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The subspecies on the Canary Islands (P. brassicae cheiranthi) is regarded by some authors as being specifically distinct. The similar P. brassicae wollastoni, which is confined to above 1000 m altitude on Madeira, is often included in this subspecies.

See Notes on distribution for information on other subspecies and closely related species.


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Bright yellow, bottle-shaped, 1.4 mm high, ribbed vertically and laid upright in clusters of 40-100. Change to bright orange prior to hatching.


Newly-emerged larvae are yellow with shiny black heads. After the first moult the colour changes to yellowish-green with yellow lines running the length of the body. On the back and sides there are numerous hair-topped tubercles, which give the larva a rugose texture.

Fully-fed larvae are 45 mm long, basically olive-green (more greyish dorsally) with a pronounced yellow dorsal line, either side of which are dorso-lateral black spots and squares. The whole body is covered with fine, hair-bearing tubercles, many of which are also black. The head is bluish-grey with black patches.


Length 20 mm. Pale green (non-diapausing) or greyish-white (diapausing) and dotted with black and yellow markings. The ventral surface is flattened. There is a lateral ridge along either side, and a similar ridge extends from the forward-pointing head up over the head, thorax and abdomen. Several blunt spikes are also found on the abdomen. Found on walls, fencing, tree-trunks and stones, or under roofs and branches, and attached to the substrate by a silken girdle and pad. The final colour matches the substrate.


Wingspan 55-70 mm, with females being larger than the males. The wing uppersides of both sexes are usually gleaming white, with a pronounced black tip to the forewing. This is augmented in the female (which has a larger black tip) by a pair of post-discal black spots, with a black smear along the inner margin below the lower spot. The undersides of both sets of wings are pale yellow dusted with grey, except for the centre and base of the forewings, which are white. In females, the black dots of the forewings also appear on the undersides. The head, thorax and abdomen are black with grey hair-like scales.

There is a little variation: in ab. flava the ground colour is sulphur-yellow; in ab. carnea it is tinged pink; in ab. coerulea the yellow of the hindwing underside is replaced by bluish green; in ab. striata Rocci the apical black patch is continued inwards as rays along the veins; and ab. albinensis is devoid of any black scales (Maitland-Emmet and Heath, 1989).

In the subspecies from the Canary Islands (P. brassicae cheiranthi), the black markings are enlarged, with the underside of the hindwings and underside forewing tips being bright yellow.

P. brassicae catoleuca from the Levant differs from the nominate subspecies in being larger, in having the black spots of the forewing undersides slightly co-joined by a bridge of black scaling in the female and in lacking the black scaling on the undersides of the hindwings.


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In 1994, P. brassicae was reported as having established itself in the western Cape, South Africa (Claassens, 1995).

P. brassicae was recorded for the first time from Delhi in February 1996. Its very high incidence was unusual, as it is primarily a pest in mountainous areas (Bhalla et al., 1997).

The subspecies P. brassicae catoleuca is found in the Levant (Larsen, 1974; Benyamini, 1990).

In Nepal, India and Tibet (Xizhang) and Yunnan, China, this species occurs as subspecies P. brassicae nepalensis.

P. brassicae is replaced in the highlands of Ethiopia and northern Tanzania by the closely related Pieris brassicoides, which flies above 2000 m altitude (Carcasson, 1981).

In the eastern Palaearctic this species is replaced by Pieris canidia.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanPresentEPPO, 2014
ArmeniaPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
AzerbaijanPresentMustafaeva, 1989; EPPO, 2014
BangladeshPresentEPPO, 2014
BhutanPresentEPPO, 2014
ChinaAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
-Hong KongAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
-HunanPresentOu et al., 2003
-TibetAbsent, unreliable recordIo and, 1990; EPPO, 2014
-YunnanAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
Georgia (Republic of)PresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
IndiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-AssamPresentEPPO, 2014
-BiharPresentEPPO, 2014
-DelhiPresent, few occurrencesBhalla et al., 1997
-HaryanaPresentKamboj et al., 2006
-Himachal PradeshPresentSood and Bhalla, 1996; EPPO, 2014
-Indian PunjabPresentEPPO, 2014
-Jammu and KashmirPresentJamdar, 1991; EPPO, 2014
-ManipurPresentRam and Pathak, 1992
-MeghalayaWidespreadThakur and Deka, 1997a
-OdishaPresentEPPO, 2014
-RajasthanPresentEPPO, 2014
-SikkimPresentEPPO, 2014
-Tamil NaduPresentEPPO, 2014
-Uttar PradeshPresentGautam and Philip, 1997; EPPO, 2014
-UttarakhandPresentMohan et al., 2005
-West BengalPresentBhatia et al., 1995
IranPresentEPPO, 2014
IraqPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
IsraelPresentBenyamini, 1990; EPPO, 2014
JapanPresent, few occurrencesMatsuda et al., 1997
-HokkaidoPresentSato and Ohsaki, 2004
JordanPresentHiggins, 1983; Larsen and Nakamura, 1983; EPPO, 2014
KazakhstanPresentEPPO, 2014
KyrgyzstanPresentEPPO, 2014
LebanonPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
MyanmarPresentEPPO, 2014
NepalPresentThapa, 1987; Smith, 1990; EPPO, 2014
PakistanPresentEPPO, 2014; Shah and Rafi, 2016
SyriaPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
TajikistanPresentEPPO, 2014
TurkeyPresentHiggins, 1983; Atalay and Hincal, 1992; EPPO, 2014
TurkmenistanPresentMurzin, 1986; EPPO, 2014
UzbekistanPresentEPPO, 2014


AlgeriaPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
EgyptPresent, few occurrencesLarsen and Nakamura, 1983
EthiopiaAbsent, unreliable recordEPPO, 2014
LibyaPresentLarsen and Nakamura, 1983; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
South AfricaPresentIntroduced1994Claassens, 1995; Geertsema, 1996; Steele, 1998
-Canary IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014
TunisiaPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014

South America

ChileRestricted distributionNeira et al., 1989; EPPO, 2014; Zúñiga-Reinoso and Mardones, 2014


AustriaWidespread****Higgins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
BelarusWidespreadBunyakin, 1995
BelgiumPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
BulgariaWidespread****Higgins, 1983; Mateeva et al., 1997; EPPO, 2014
CroatiaPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
CyprusWidespreadHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicWidespreadEPPO, 2014
Czechoslovakia (former)Widespread****Higgins, 1983
DenmarkPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
EstoniaPresentGri?akova et al., 2006
FinlandPresent, few occurrencesHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
FranceWidespreadHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
-CorsicaPresentEPPO, 2014
GermanyWidespread****Higgins, 1983; Sauer, 1985; EPPO, 2014
GreecePresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
-CretePresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
HungaryWidespread****Higgins, 1983; Papiewska-Csapó, 1996; EPPO, 2014
IrelandWidespreadHiggins, 1983; Maitland-Emmet et al., 1989; EPPO, 2014
ItalyWidespreadHiggins, 1983; Fabbris, 1990; EPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
LatviaPresentZarins and Eglite, 1993
LithuaniaPresentBartninkaite and Tyakoryute, 1994; EPPO, 2014
MacedoniaPresentEPPO, 2014
MaltaPresentValletta, 1972; EPPO, 2014
NetherlandsPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
NorwayPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
PolandPresentHiggins, 1983; Narkiewicz-Jodko, 1996; EPPO, 2014
PortugalWidespreadFigueiredo & Ara·jo, 1987; EPPO, 2014
-AzoresPresentEPPO, 2014
-MadeiraPresentEPPO, 2014
RomaniaPresentPopescu-Gorj, 1964; Higgins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
Russian FederationRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-Central RussiaWidespreadPopova, 1996; Sokolova and Issi, 1997
-Eastern SiberiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-Russia (Europe)Restricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-SiberiaRestricted distributionHiggins, 1983
-Western SiberiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
SerbiaPresentEPPO, 2014
SlovakiaPresentEPPO, 2014
SloveniaPresentKos, 2001
SpainPresentHiggins, 1983; EPPO, 2014
-Balearic IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014
SwedenWidespread****EPPO, 2014
SwitzerlandWidespreadVorbrodt and Müller-Rutz, 1911; EPPO, 2014
UKWidespread****Maitland-Emmet et al., 1989; EPPO, 2014
-Channel IslandsPresentHiggins, 1983; Maitland-Emmet et al., 1989; EPPO, 2014
-England and WalesWidespreadMaitland-Emmet et al., 1989; Thomas, 1989; EPPO, 2014
-Northern IrelandPresentAldwell, 2003
-ScotlandWidespreadMaitland-Emmet et al., 1989; Thomas, 1989
UkrainePresentYastrebov, 1991
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentHiggins, 1983; Krnjajic et al., 1997


Top of page Because of its migratory nature, this species can be found almost anywhere; however, it does show a preference for cultivated areas, where species of Brassicaceae are cultivated, and urban gardens. In Europe, small populations still breed along sea cliffs, in large woodland clearings and on steep rocky hillsides, which appear to have been the original habitats of this species.

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

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Larsen (1974) recorded this species as feeding on Capparis in Lebanon. Records of Malus domestica (apple), Pisum sativum (pea) and Solanum melongena (aubergine) are very doubtful.

Feeding, growth, development and oviposition preferences of P. brassicae have been studied on cole crops in the laboratory in India. Final-instar larvae preferred sarson [Brassica rapa subsp. trilocularis], cabbage and Brassica juncea (Indian mustard) to cauliflower, whereas toria [Brassica rapa subsp. dichotoma] was less preferred. Adults oviposited only on cruciferous plants, no eggs being laid on wheat, gram (Cicer arietinum) or pea. The maximum number of eggs were laid on cauliflower, followed by cabbage and Indian mustard. The larvae completed their development in 26.60-28.03 days. Development was faster on Indian mustard, toria, cauliflower and cabbage than on sarson. The greatest number of adults emerged on cabbage and the growth index was highest on this food plant. It is concluded that, in India, cabbage is most susceptible to attack by P. brassicae, followed by cauliflower, Indian mustard, sarson and toria (Tiwari and Kashyap, 1988).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Armoracia rusticana (horseradish)BrassicaceaeOther
Brassica junceaBrassicaceaeOther
Brassica juncea var. juncea (Indian mustard)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica napusBrassicaceaeOther
Brassica napus var. napobrassica (swede)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica napus var. napus (rape)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica nigra (black mustard)BrassicaceaeOther
Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (cauliflower)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. capitata (cabbage)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera (Brussels sprouts)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes (kohlrabi)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. italica (broccoli)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. viridis (collards)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica rapaBrassicaceaeOther
Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera (turnip rape)BrassicaceaeMain
Buddleia (Butterflybush)LoganiaceaeHabitat/association
Bunias orientalis (Turkish warty-cabbage)BrassicaceaeWild host
Cakile maritimaBrassicaceaeWild host
Capparis spinosa (Caper bush)CapparaceaeOther
Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse)BrassicaceaeWild host
Crambe maritima (Sea-kale)BrassicaceaeOther
Eruca vesicaria (purple-vein rocket)BrassicaceaeOther
Erysimum cheiri (wallflower)BrassicaceaeWild host
Lavandula angustifolia (lavender)LamiaceaeHabitat/association
Lepidium didymum (lesser swine-cress)BrassicaceaeWild host
Lepidium draba (hoary cress)BrassicaceaeWild host
Lepidium pinnatifidumBrassicaceaeWild host
Raphanus sativus (radish)BrassicaceaeOther
Reseda lutea (Cutleaf mignonette)ResedaceaeOther
Salvia (sage)LamiaceaeHabitat/association
Sisymbrium irioBrassicaceaeWild host
Sisymbrium officinale (Hedge mustard)BrassicaceaeOther
Sisymbrium orientale (eastern rocket (UK))BrassicaceaeOther
Tropaeolum majus (common nasturtium)TropaeolaceaeOther

Growth Stages

Top of page Vegetative growing stage


Top of page Larvae of this species often strip growing shoots and even whole plants, particularly in the final instar. In badly infested cabbage fields only the major leaf veins may be left.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Leaves / external feeding

Biology and Ecology

Top of page P. brassicae is naturally nomadic. It does not live in identifiable, permanent colonies but breeds wherever suitable conditions are encountered. Under optimum conditions, enormous numbers can build up which then explode outwards in strong migrations. For this reason, and because of high levels of parasitism, numbers of this species can fluctuate wildly from year to year in any given locality.

A mass migration of P. brassicae was recorded in Kashmir, India, on 28 May 1988. It was estimated that at least 75,000 to 80,000 butterflies passed one site in a northerly direction at altitudes of 3800-4000 m in 1.5 days, this being only a small proportion of the total population (Jamdar, 1991).

This butterfly was very abundant in the UK in 1992. The timing of systematic counts, anecdotal reports of exceptional local abundance and frequent counts at a coastal site, cast doubt on the importance of immigration in contributing to the large populations. Emergence within the UK was suggested (Pollard, 1994).

In northern Europe, including England, there are two generations per year, with adults first appearing in late April and May. The second brood usually appears in late July and August. Further south in Europe there is usually a third brood in October, and there may be as many as four broods in Malta (Valletta, 1972). The adults are attracted to blue and purple flowers and, during a migration or population explosion, can be seen in large numbers on lavender, Salvia, Buddleia and similar plants.

This species ascends to 3000 m altitude in the Alps of Europe (Vorbrodt and Müller-Rutz, 1911) and to over 2000 m in Lebanon (Larsen, 1974).

In Israel, adults can be found from February until December (Benyamini, 1990). In Malta it can be seen all year round, although it is rarer during the dry summer and the colder months of December and January; however, the local population is massively re-enforced by large numbers of immigrants during spring and autumn (Valletta, 1972).

At Barapani, Meghalaya, India, there are four generations of this species, with two overlapping generations at low and mid altitudes and two or three generations at high altitudes. The winter generations have a longer life cycle than those during the summer and rainy seasons. Higher temperatures directly influence different stages. A temperature range of 15.2-30°C was found to be ideal for multiplication during May-June. However, other abiotic parameters did not influence the life cycle (Thakur and Deka, 1997b).

The larvae are gregarious for most of their life, only becoming semi-independent towards the end of the final instar. When fully grown they leave the host to find a place to pupate on or under some protective surface off the ground. This may be some distance away from where it fed.

All larvae readily regurgitate a thick, repellent, green liquid from their guts to deter predators and parasitoids.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agrothereutes adustus Parasite Razmi et al., 2011
Bacillus cereus Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis aizawai Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis caucasicus Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis colmeri Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis entomocidus Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis indiana Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. dendrolimus Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis tochigiensis Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis wuhanensis Pathogen Larvae
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Beauveria brongniartii Pathogen Pupae
Brachymeria coloradensis Parasite Razmi et al., 2011
Brachymeria rufogasteri Parasite
Campoletis flavicincta Parasite
Campoplex collinus Parasite
Carabidae Predator Larvae
Ceromasia rubrifrons Parasite Larvae
Chlaenius bioculatus Predator Larvae
Chrysoperla carnea Predator Eggs
Coccinella septempunctata Predator Eggs
Compsilura concinnata Parasite Larvae
Cotesia flavipes Parasite Larvae
Cotesia glomeratus Parasite Larvae
Cotesia limbata Parasite Larvae
Cotesia rubecula Parasite Larvae
Cotesia ruficrus Parasite Larvae
Diadegma fenestrale Parasite
Diadegma pierisae Parasite
Entomophthora Pathogen
Episyrphus balteatus Predator Adults/Nymphs
Erynia pieris Pathogen Larvae
Erynia radicans Pathogen Larvae
Eulophus pennicornis Parasite Larvae
Eurytoma goidanichi Parasite Larvae/Pupae
Eurytoma verticillata Parasite Larvae/Pupae
Exorista grandis Parasite Larvae
Exorista larvarum Parasite Larvae
Exorista segregata Parasite Larvae
Granulosis virus Pathogen Larvae Barkat et al., 2014
Hemiteles similis Parasite
Hyposoter ebeninus Parasite Larvae
Hyposoter vulgaris Parasite
Linepithema humile Predator Eggs
Microgaster tuberculifera Parasite Larvae
Nosema mesnili Pathogen Larvae
Nucleopolyhedrosis virus Pathogen
Nythobia rufipes Parasite
Passer domesticus Predator Larvae
Phryxe nemea Parasite Larvae
Phryxe vulgaris Parasite Larvae
Pimpla contemplator Parasite Pupae
Pimpla fuscipes Parasite Pupae
Pimpla hypochondriaca Parasite Pupae
Podisus maculiventris Predator Larvae
Pseudomonas aeruginosa Pathogen
Pteromalus puparum Parasite Pupae Pakistan; Poland cabbages
Serratia marcescens Pathogen
Steinernema feltiae Parasite Larvae
Sturmia bella Parasite Larvae
Thelohania mesnili Pathogen Larvae
Trichogramma chilonis Parasite
Trichogramma evanescens Parasite Eggs Netherlands Brussels sprouts
Trichogramma maidis Parasite Eggs Netherlands Brussels sprouts
Vairimorpha plodiae Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The two main natural enemies of this species are Cotesia glomerata (larvae) and Pteromalus puparum (pupae). In some areas of Europe, up to 100% of the early stages may be destroyed by these parasitoids alone (Sengonca and Peters, 1991). Although Cotesia rubecula will develop in P. brassicae, its preferred host is Pieris rapae (Harvey et al., 1999)

Ecological studies on the natural enemies of both larvae and pupae of P. brassicae in Himachal Pradesh, India, showed that the parasitoids Cotesia glomerata and Hyposoter ebeninus, the predatory syrphid Episyrphus balteatus and the entomopathogens Bacillus sp., Entomophthora sp. and Serratia marcescens, caused mortality of 31% (Sood and Bhalla, 1996).

In a survey of the distribution, injuriousness and natural enemies of P. brassicae on cruciferous crops in Pakistan, this pierid was the most serious pest of brassicas in the Sialkot area. Cotesia glomerata, Diadegma pierisae and Pteromalus puparum were the commonest parasitoids in most areas (Mushtaque, 1989).

During a long-term study of Nosema mesnili infections in natural populations of P. brassicae in north-western Russia, a regular massive occurrence (once every 4-8 years) of another microsporidian, Thelohania mesnili, was observed (Sokolova and Issi, 1997).

Studies in cabbage crops in the Ukraine showed that parasitism of larvae and pupae of P. brassicae by Cotesia glomerata and Pteromalus puparum was as high as 60-65% and 25-30%, respectively, at 10-15 m from a source of flower nectar, but these figures were more than halved at 50 m (Yastrebov, 1991).

A study carried out between 1980 and 1983 to determine the natural enemies associated with eggs, larvae and pupae of P. brassicae collected from cultivated crucifers in Valdivia, Chile, found no natural enemies at the egg stage. However, 82.24% of the larvae were parasitized by Cotesia glomerata and an Apanteles sp. Both of these braconids were attacked by hyperparasitoids of the genera Hemicallidiotes, Isdromas and Perissocentrus. Various bacteria infected 15.63% of the larvae. In the pupal stage, the natural enemies and their average rates of parasitism were: Pteromalus puparum 6.75%, the ichneumonid Pimpla fuscipes 23.37% and the fungus Beauveria brongniartii 5.82%. During the period of the study, 0.74% of the immature stages of P. brassicae became adults (Neira et al., 1989).


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P. brassicae is an oligophagous insect that feeds on members of family Brassicaceae (Lal and Ram, 2004; Younas et al., 2004; Hwang et al., 2008; Hasan and Ansari, 2010; 2011). Damage to cabbage heads has been reported to be as high as 70-98% (Prasad, 1961; 1963).

Hasan and Ansari (2010; 2011) reported P. brassicae (L.) to be one of the most destructive and cosmopolitan pests of cruciferous crops in India, where it causes 40% of the damage to cruciferous crops per year. In Himachal Pradesh, India, P. brassicae completes three generations in a year, the duration of which vary from 32-64 days. The first two generations during February-May inflict severe damage to cabbage and cauliflower. High temperatures and more sunshine hours, accompanied by low relative humidity and rainfall, favour population build-ups (Sood and Bhalla, 1996).

In a field study in 1991-92 at Upper Shillong, Meghalaya, India with cabbage cv. Pride of India, 68.5% of the marketable yield was affected by attack by larvae of P. brassicae. Larval population and yield correlation indicated that the damage was significant 22-25 days and 40-47 days after sowing (Thakur, 1996).

It was estimated that at Izmir, Turkey, damage caused by P. brassicae to cabbages in 1985 and 1986 averaged 40.45%, and to cauliflowers 27.06% (Atalay and Hincal, 1992).

In Sierra Nevada, western USA, Shapiro (1975) reported that Pieris spp. were serious pest of cruciferous crops and caused 41% annual losses in crucifers.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Numerous holes appearing in young leaves are usually the first sign of an infestation. Turning over shoots will reveal large clusters of young larvae resting beneath the leaves. Older larvae usually rest quite openly on the leaf upperside. The presence of adults flying around cruciferous crops will also indicate that egg-laying is taking place and that damage is to be expected later.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Adults are similar in both appearance and behaviour to Pieris rapae; however, the latter is generally much smaller, with the black tip to the forewing upperside being confined to the extreme tip and not extending down the outer edge. The larva of P. rapae is very different, in being solitary and predominantly green.

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control
In several experiments in 1987 and 1988 in Germany, cauliflower fields planted from May to July were covered with netting (Rantai K). Covering the crop for 4-5 weeks in the first few weeks after planting was sufficient to exclude and control P. brassicae (Wonneberger and Gawehn, 1989).
Chemical Control
Ram and Pathak (1992) reported the effectiveness of carbaryl and dimethoate in reducing P. brassicae infestation on cabbage in field trials in Manipur, India.
Eleven insecticides were evaluated for control of P. brassicae in cabbage cv. Pride of India growing at Barapani, Meghalaya, India, during 1991-92. Plants were sprayed twice, once at the preheading stage and again at post-heading. Overall, fenvalerate gave virtually 100% control of P. brassicae, followed by deltamethrin (97.3%), cypermethrin (96.8%), malathion (96.08%) and fenitrothion (93.3%). Chlorpyrifos, quinalphos and diflubenzuron were the least effective of the tested insecticides. The highest yield was obtained in fenvalerate-treated plots. The cost-benefit ratio was also highest for fenvalerate (Thakur and Deka, 1997a).
Destruxins produced by the entomogenous fungus Metarhizium anisopliae have been tested for their effects on first instar larvae of P. brassicae. Different concentrations of crude destruxin, pure destruxin A, pure destruxin E and a synthetic analogue, Hpy-6 dtx E, were used. First-instar larvae of P. brassicae were very sensitive to crude destruxin, exhibiting high mortality levels after 36 hours (Eilenberg and Thomsen, 1998).
The use of insecticides in an integrated control programme has to be undertaken with care due to their toxicity to natural enemies. Eleven insecticides at the recommended field dosages were evaluated for their toxicity to the braconid Cotesia glomerata. Diflubenzuron, fenvalerate, cypermethrin and deltamethrin proved very safe, whereas malathion, chlorpyrifos and quinalphos proved toxic within 24 hours. Residual toxicity of fenitrothion dropped significantly within 7 days of treatment whereas malathion had significantly high residual toxicity up to 21 days. It was concluded that the use of the above mentioned synthetic pyrethroids and diflubenzuron on cabbage at the recommended dosages was safe to C. glomerata. In the case of fenitrothion, release of C. glomerata should not be made until 7 days after spraying (Thakur and Deka, 1995).
Biopesticides and Botanicals
Field studies have been conducted in India using two formulations of neem (extracts of Azadirachta indica) against larvae of P. brassicae in cabbage fields. Larval mortality was highest 7 days after treatment, with death-rates varying between 73.33 and 86.66%. The neem formulations were safer to the parasitoid Cotesia glomerata, which parasitized the P. brassicae larvae (Dhaliwal et al., 1998). Neem also reduced the survival of P. brassicae larvae feeding on cabbage leaves treated with the neem extract (Grisakova et al., 2006).
1% azadirachtin water emulsions  showed repellent action to P. brassicae (Luik and Viidalepp, 2001). Aqueous extracts of Melia azedarach leaves and seeds have also been shown to have significant antifeedant and deterrent action towards P. brassicae (Singh et al., 1987; Osman and Port, 1990; Sharma and Gupta, 2009). Leatemia et al. (2004) found crude seed extracts of Annona squamosa to be effective against P. brassicae. Mixtures of Piper retrofractum (Piperaceae) + Annona squamosa (Annonaceae) extracts and Aglaia odorata (Meliaceae) + A. squamosa extracts were found to be effective against P. brassicae  (Dadang et al., 2009).
Jaquet et al., (1986) reported that the larvae of P. brassicae were highly susceptible to purified crystals of strains of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) subsp. thuringiensis. The pest was also susceptible to Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium anisopilae (Sabbour and Sahab, 2005). CAMB Bt-based biopesticides were found to be effective against P. brassicae on cauliflower (Zafar et al., 2002). Toxicity of Bt against P. brassicae larvae was also reported by Lama (1990) and Prabhakar and Bishop (2009). Klokocar-Šmit et al. (2007) investigated the effects of formulations based on B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki and spinosad on P. brassicae instars 2, 3, 4 and 5 and found the effect of insecticides to be inversely proportional to larval instars. Spinosad was more effective in inducing mortality and reducing leaf damage by all larval instars than formulations based on B. thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki. Harris and Maclean (1999) also reported superiority of Spinosad over other pesticides against this pest.


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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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10/11/14 Text updated by:

Dr. D. M. Firake, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam, Meghalaya, India

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