Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Pieris rapae
(cabbage white butterfly)



Pieris rapae (cabbage white butterfly)


  • Last modified
  • 29 March 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Pieris rapae
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cabbage white butterfly
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
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Fifth instar larva.
TitleFifth instar larva
CaptionFifth instar larva.
CopyrightDavid G. James
Fifth instar larva.
Fifth instar larvaFifth instar larva.David G. James
CopyrightDavid G. James
AdultDavid G. James
O. schellembergii feeding on Pieris rapae larva.|Pentatomid (Oechalia schellembergii) feeding on P. rapae larva.
TitlePredator of P. rapae
CaptionO. schellembergii feeding on Pieris rapae larva.|Pentatomid (Oechalia schellembergii) feeding on P. rapae larva.
CopyrightDavid G. James
O. schellembergii feeding on Pieris rapae larva.|Pentatomid (Oechalia schellembergii) feeding on P. rapae larva.
Predator of P. rapaeO. schellembergii feeding on Pieris rapae larva.|Pentatomid (Oechalia schellembergii) feeding on P. rapae larva.David G. James
Pteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of P. rapae.|Pteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of Pieris rapae.
TitleAdult|Pupal parasitoid of P. rapae
CaptionPteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of P. rapae.|Pteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of Pieris rapae.
CopyrightDavid G. James
Pteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of P. rapae.|Pteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of Pieris rapae.
Adult|Pupal parasitoid of P. rapaePteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of P. rapae.|Pteromalus puparum, pupal parasitoid of Pieris rapae.David G. James
CopyrightDavid G. James
AdultDavid G. James
Severe defoliation of Brassica plant (cabbage) by larvae of Pieris rapae.  The leaves are stripped to the veins.
TitleDamage symptoms
CaptionSevere defoliation of Brassica plant (cabbage) by larvae of Pieris rapae. The leaves are stripped to the veins.
CopyrightAlan Macleod
Severe defoliation of Brassica plant (cabbage) by larvae of Pieris rapae.  The leaves are stripped to the veins.
Damage symptomsSevere defoliation of Brassica plant (cabbage) by larvae of Pieris rapae. The leaves are stripped to the veins.Alan Macleod
Severe defoliation of Brassica (cabbage) plants by Pieris rapae larvae.
TitleCrop damage
CaptionSevere defoliation of Brassica (cabbage) plants by Pieris rapae larvae.
CopyrightAlan Macleod
Severe defoliation of Brassica (cabbage) plants by Pieris rapae larvae.
Crop damageSevere defoliation of Brassica (cabbage) plants by Pieris rapae larvae.Alan Macleod


Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Pieris rapae Linnaeus

Preferred Common Name

  • cabbage white butterfly

Other Scientific Names

  • Artogeia rapae Linnaeus
  • Ascia rapae Linnaeus
  • Mancipium rapae Linnaeus
  • Papilio rapae Linnaeus
  • Pontia rapae Linnaeus

International Common Names

  • English: cabbage butterfly; cabbage white (England); common cabbage worm; common white; imported cabbageworm; rape white butterfly; small cabbage white; small garden white; small white butterfly
  • Spanish: blanquita de la col; gusano de las hojas de hortaliza; mariposa blanca de la col; mariposa pequena de la col; mariposita blanca de la col (mexico)
  • French: chenille du choux; petit, papillon, blanc du chou; piéride de la rave; piéride du chou; piéride du chou

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: lille kalsommerfugl
  • Finland: naurisperhonen
  • Germany: Weissling, Kleiner Kohl-; Weissling, Rueben-
  • Israel: lavnin hakruv hakatan
  • Italy: Rapaiola
  • Japan: Na-no-aomusi
  • Netherlands: Koolwitje, kleine
  • Norway: liten kalsommerfugl
  • Sweden: rovfjäril

EPPO code

  • PIERRA (Pieris rapae)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Pieridae
  •                             Genus: Pieris
  •                                 Species: Pieris rapae

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page Pieris rapae was first described by Linnaeus in 1758 as Papilio rapae, but subsequently placed in the genus Pieris by Schrank. Pieris rapae is the preferred and most often used name.


Top of page Eggs

The egg of Pieris rapae is pale yellow and about 1 mm long. It is twice as high as it is wide, giving it a spindle shaped appearance. It has a narrow base and blunt apex and usually shows 14 pronounced vertical ribs and numerous faint horizontal lines. It is attached endwise to the leaf surface.


The head and body of the first-instar larva are pale yellow with fine transparent hairs arising from small white spots. The mature larva is about 3 cm long, its head and body are velvety green with short hairs. There is a faint yellow mid-dorsal line and numerous black, and occasional white, minute raised spots from which arise short translucent hairs. Segments have one or two yellow lateral spots. The larva has five pairs of prolegs.


The pupa is attached with a cremaster and girdle to some part of the food plant, or sometimes to a rock, fence or wall some distance away from the food plant. The pupa is 18-20 mm long and has a pointed anterior spine. The thorax and abdomen have a dorsal ridge with paired pointed dorsolateral ridges. When attached to the food plant the colour of the pupa is usually green, but pupae attached to other objects tend to assume the colour of the background and they are often grey or pink.


Pieris rapae is a white, diurnally active butterfly with a wingspan of 4-6 cm. The wings are white with a black area near the tip of each forewing and a small black spot on the front edge of the wing.The female has two black spots on each forewing (Common and Waterhouse, 1981) while the male has only one. In the male, the apex and costa of the forewings are grey-black with a black spot at the lower angle of the cell and sometimes another obscure blotch below it. The hindwing has a black spot on the costa near the apex. The forewing below is white with the apex yellowish, and a pair of black blotches corresponding to the blotches on the upper surface. The hindwing is dull yellow, dusted with black. The female is slightly larger than the male, usually creamy white above and always with two black spots on the forewing (Common and Waterhouse, 1981).


Top of page Pieris rapae is essentially a northern temperate species with its origins in Europe. It was accidentally introduced into China (Yin et al., 1989), North America (in 1860), Australia (in 1937) and New Zealand (in 1930).

Distribution Table

Top of page

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


AfghanistanPresentCIE, 1952
AzerbaijanPresentSafarova, 2003
ChinaPresentCIE, 1952
-AnhuiPresentHan et al., 2001
-GuangdongPresentZhong et al., 2001
-GuangxiPresentHuang et al., 2009
-Hong KongPresentJohnston and Johnston, 1980; APPPC, 1987
-HunanPresentCIE, 1952
-JilinUnconfirmed record
-ShanghaiPresentMa and Gu, 2003
-ShanxiPresentZhao et al., 2001
-SichuanPresentHe et al., 2005
-YunnanPresentCIE, 1952
Georgia (Republic of)Present
IndiaPresentMuthukumar et al., 2007
-DelhiPresentMuthukumar et al., 2007
-Jammu and KashmirPresentBhat and Bhagat, 2009
IranPresentCIE, 1952; Hasanshahi et al., 2013
IraqPresentCIE, 1952
IsraelPresentCIE, 1952
JapanPresentCIE, 1952
JordanPresentCIE, 1952
Korea, DPRPresentCIE, 1952
Korea, Republic ofPresentCIE, 1952
KyrgyzstanUnconfirmed record
LebanonPresentCIE, 1952
MongoliaUnconfirmed record
MyanmarPresentWaterhouse, 1993
PakistanPresentCIE, 1952; Shah and Rafi, 2016
PhilippinesUnconfirmed record
SingaporeWidespreadWaterhouse, 1993; AVA, 2001
SyriaPresentCIE, 1952
TaiwanPresentLee et al., 1979
TurkeyPresentCIE, 1952
VietnamPresentWaterhouse, 1993


AlgeriaPresentCIE, 1952
EgyptPresentCIE, 1952
LibyaPresentCIE, 1952
MoroccoPresentCIE, 1952
-Canary IslandsPresentCIE, 1952

North America

BermudaPresentCIE, 1952
CanadaPresent1860CIE, 1952
-AlbertaPresentEzzeddine and Matter, 2008
-QuebecPresentBélair et al., 2003
MexicoPresentCIE, 1952
USAPresent1860CIE, 1952
-AlabamaPresentCIE, 1952
-AlaskaPresentCIE, 1952
-ArizonaPresentCIE, 1952
-ArkansasPresentCIE, 1952
-CaliforniaPresentCIE, 1952
-ColoradoPresentCIE, 1952
-ConnecticutPresentCIE, 1952
-DelawarePresentCIE, 1952
-FloridaPresentCIE, 1952
-GeorgiaPresentCIE, 1952
-HawaiiPresentCIE, 1952
-IdahoPresentCIE, 1952
-IllinoisPresentCIE, 1952
-IndianaPresentCIE, 1952
-IowaPresentCIE, 1952
-KansasPresentCIE, 1952
-KentuckyPresentCIE, 1952
-LouisianaPresentCIE, 1952
-MainePresentCIE, 1952
-MarylandPresentCIE, 1952
-MassachusettsPresentCIE, 1952
-MichiganPresentCIE, 1952
-MinnesotaPresentCIE, 1952
-MississippiPresentCIE, 1952
-MissouriPresentCIE, 1952
-MontanaPresentCIE, 1952
-NebraskaPresentCIE, 1952
-NevadaPresentCIE, 1952
-New HampshirePresentCIE, 1952
-New JerseyPresentCIE, 1952
-New MexicoPresentCIE, 1952
-New YorkPresentCIE, 1952
-North CarolinaPresentCIE, 1952
-North DakotaPresentCIE, 1952
-OhioPresentCIE, 1952
-OklahomaPresentCIE, 1952
-OregonPresentCIE, 1952
-PennsylvaniaPresentCIE, 1952
-Rhode IslandPresentCIE, 1952
-South CarolinaPresentCIE, 1952
-South DakotaPresentCIE, 1952
-TennesseePresentCIE, 1952
-TexasPresentCIE, 1952
-UtahPresentCIE, 1952
-VermontPresentCIE, 1952
-VirginiaPresentCIE, 1952
-WashingtonPresentCIE, 1952
-West VirginiaPresentCIE, 1952
-WisconsinPresentCIE, 1952
-WyomingPresentCIE, 1952


AustriaPresentCIE, 1952
BelarusPresentPrishchepa et al., 2003
BelgiumPresentCIE, 1952
BulgariaPresentCIE, 1952
CyprusPresentCIE, 1952
Czech RepublicPresentCIE, 1952
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentCIE, 1952
DenmarkPresentCIE, 1952
EstoniaPresentJõgar et al., 2003
FinlandPresentCIE, 1952
FrancePresentCIE, 1952
-CorsicaPresentCIE, 1952
GermanyPresentCIE, 1952
GreecePresentCIE, 1952
IrelandPresentCIE, 1952
ItalyPresentCIE, 1952
LatviaPresentJankevica and Zarins, 2005
LithuaniaUnconfirmed record
MacedoniaPresentCIE, 1952
MaltaPresentCIE, 1952
NetherlandsPresentCIE, 1952
NorwayPresentCIE, 1952
PolandPresentCIE, 1952
PortugalPresentCIE, 1952
-MadeiraPresentCIE, 1952
RomaniaPresentCIE, 1952
Russian FederationPresentCIE, 1952
SpainPresentCIE, 1952
SwedenPresentCIE, 1952
SwitzerlandPresentCIE, 1952
UKPresentCIE, 1952
-Channel IslandsPresentCIE, 1952
UkraineUnconfirmed record
Yugoslavia (former)PresentCIE, 1952
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)PresentCIE, 1952


AustraliaPresentCIE, 1952; Braby, 2012
-TasmaniaPresentHingston, 2006
-VictoriaPresentLeeson, 2004
New ZealandPresentCIE, 1952

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page The primary hosts of Pieris rapae are plants in the Brassicaceae with some secondary hosts in related plant families (e.g. Capparidaceae, Resedaceae) (Common and Waterhouse, 1981; Hely et al., 1982).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

Top of page
Plant nameFamilyContext
Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)BrassicaceaeOther
Arabis alpinaBrassicaceaeWild host
Armoracia rusticana (horseradish)BrassicaceaeWild host
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress (UK))Wild host
Brassica junceaBrassicaceaeOther
Brassica napusBrassicaceaeOther
Brassica nigra (black mustard)BrassicaceaeWild host
Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. alboglabra (Chinese kale)BrassicaceaeOther
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 cultivar group CaixinBrassicaceaeMain
Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera (turnip rape)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensisBrassicaceaeMain
Brassicaceae (cruciferous crops)BrassicaceaeMain
Cakile maritimaBrassicaceaeOther
Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd's purse)BrassicaceaeWild host
Cardamine pratensis (cuckooflower (UK))BrassicaceaeWild host
Eruca vesicaria (purple-vein rocket)BrassicaceaeWild host
Erysimum cheiranthoides (Treacle mustard)BrassicaceaeOther
Lepidium virginicum (Virginian peppercress)BrassicaceaeWild host
Lobularia maritima (sweet alyssum)BrassicaceaeWild host
Matthiola incana (stock)BrassicaceaeWild host
Raphanus raphanistrum (wild radish)BrassicaceaeOther
Raphanus sativus (radish)BrassicaceaeOther
Rorippa indica (indian marshcress)BrassicaceaeOther
Rorippa sylvestris (creeping yellowcress)BrassicaceaeWild host
Sinapis alba (white mustard)BrassicaceaeWild host
Sinapis arvensis (wild mustard)Wild host
Sisymbrium irioBrassicaceaeWild host
Sisymbrium officinale (Hedge mustard)BrassicaceaeWild host
Spinacia oleracea (spinach)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Thlaspi arvense (field pennycress)BrassicaceaeWild host
Tropaeolum majus (common nasturtium)TropaeolaceaeOther

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page Larvae of Pieris rapae damage cruciferous crops by chewing leaves, hearts and curds. Young larvae hatch on the outer leaves and feed on them superficially leaving the upper leaf surface intact. Older larvae make holes in the leaves and are more likely to eat through small veins, they also damage the outer leaves of the hearts of cabbages or the curd of broccoli or cauliflowers.They often bore into the centre of the head damaging the edible portion of the plant. Heavily infested plants become ragged and stunted but no webbing occurs.The presence of masses of wet greenish-brown excrement deep among leaves is indicative of this pest. In large infestations of P. rapae the plant may be reduced to a partial or complete skeleton, in which all the leaf tissue except the veins has been eaten.

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page
SignLife StagesType
Fruit / external feeding
Fruit / frass visible
Growing point / external feeding
Growing point / frass visible
Leaves / external feeding
Leaves / frass visible
Whole plant / external feeding
Whole plant / frass visible
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Adult Pieris rapae live for 5-20 days. The females usually begin laying eggs within a day or so of eclosion and lay 400-1000 eggs during their lifetime (Suzuki, 1978). Fecundity is influenced by mating frequency (Watanabe and Ando, 1993, 1994) and is greatest when immature stages develop under warm conditions (Jones et al., 1982). The eggs contain an oviposition-deterring pheromone (Schoonhoven et al., 1990) which facilitates the optimal dispersal of the eggs. The adults disperse a long way and female flight paths may be up to 700 m/day (Jones et al., 1980), ensuring efficient location of the host plants which are generally common (Fahrig and Paloheimo, 1987).

P. rapae is usually double or triple brooded, and in most regions, overwinters as a diapausing pupa. However, in warmer locations such as some parts of Australia and southern California, P. rapae continues breeding throughout the year (Shapiro, 1984). In Australia, P. rapae is generally most abundant in spring and autumn (Hamilton, 1979).

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. In Australia, larval survival is high in spring but low in summer owing to increased activity by predatory ants (Jones et al., 1987). Moiseeva (1984) reported that a single larva of P. rapae consumed 61-69 cm2 of cabbage leaf during its development. Larvae prefer to feed on the youngest (head and wrapper) leaves of cabbage (Hoy and Shelton, 1987). 84% of feeding damage is caused by the fifth instar (Wei et al., 1983). When mature, larvae fasten themselves to the lower leaf surfaces by silk bands. The pupal stage lasts for 7-12 days.

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agriosphodrus dohrni Predator
Bacillus thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis aizawai Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis alesti Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis caucasicus Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis colmeri Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis indiana Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis kenyae Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. dendrolimus Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis tianmensis Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis tochigiensis Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis wuhanensis Pathogen Larvae
Bactromyia pieridis Parasite Larvae
Baryscapus galactopus Parasite
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Brachymeria albicrus Parasite Pupae Hasanshahi et al., 2013
Brachymeria coloradensis Parasite Egypt; Pakistan
Brachymeria lasus Parasite
Brachymeria ovata Parasite Pupae USA; Virginia cabbages
Cantheconidia furcellata Predator
Carabidae Predator Eggs/Larvae
Chetogena floridensis Parasite Larvae USA; Virginia cabbages
Chlaenius bioculatus Predator Larvae
Compsilura concinnata Parasite Larvae Pakistan cabbages
Conura side Parasite
Copidosoma truncatellum Parasite Hawaii Brassica
Cotesia congregata Parasite Larvae Hawaii Brassica
Cotesia glomeratus Parasite Larvae Australia; Australia; Australian Capital Territory; China; Jilin; Hawaii; New Zealand; Pakistan; Philippines; USA; USA; Virginia Brassica; Brassicaceae; cabbages; rape
Cotesia rubecula Parasite Larvae Australia; Canada; China; Jilin; China; Shanxi; Hawaii; USA; Virginia; New Zealand Brassica; Brassicaceae; cabbages
Cotesia ruficrus Parasite Larvae
Cyanocitta cristata Predator
Diadegma fenestrale Parasite
Diadegma pierisae Parasite Pakistan cabbages
Dibrachys cavus Parasite
Dictynus decaprini Predator
Diglyphus isaea Parasite
Eocanthecona furcellata Predator
Epicampocera succincta Parasite Larvae
Euphorocera edwardsii Parasite Larvae
Exorista amoena Parasite Larvae
Exorista bombycis Parasite Larvae
Exorista bombycis Parasite Larvae
Exorista larvarum Parasite Larvae
Granulosis virus Pathogen
Hyposoter ebeninus Parasite
Hyposoter vulgaris Parasite
Iridomyrmex purpureus Predator Australia; Australian Capital Territory cabbages; rape
Labidura riparia Predator
Labidura riparia truncata Predator
Lespesia aletiae Parasite Larvae
Lygus lineolaris Predator
Melangyna novaezelandiae Predator
Melanostoma fasciatum Predator
Metarhizium anisopliae Pathogen
Microgaster tuberculifera Parasite Larvae
Nala lividipes Predator
Nosema mesnili Pathogen
Olios diana Predator
Ostearius melanopygius Predator
Paradrino laevicula Parasite Larvae
Paradrino longicornis Parasite Larvae
Passer domesticus Predator
Phalangium opilio Predator
Phryxe magnicornis Parasite Larvae
Phryxe nemea Parasite Larvae
Phryxe vulgaris Parasite Larvae China; Jilin; USA; Virginia Brassicaceae; cabbages
Pimpla contemplator Parasite
Pimpla disparis Parasite
Polistes fuscatus Predator Larvae
Pteromalus puparum Parasite Pupae Australia; Bermuda; China; Jilin; Egypt; Hawaii; New Zealand; Pakistan; Philippines; USA; Virginia Brassica; Brassicaceae; cabbages
Steinernema carpocapsae Parasite
Steinernema feltiae Parasite
Steinernema glaseri Parasite
Tetrastichus sinope Parasite
Thyreocephalus cyanopterus Predator
Trichogramma buesi Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma chilonis Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma dendrolimi Parasite
Trichogramma evanescens Parasite Eggs China; Jilin; China; Shanxi; Missouri; USA Baphicacanthus; Brassica; Brassicaceae
Trichogramma maidis Parasite Eggs Netherlands Brussels sprouts
Trichogramma pretiosum Parasite Eggs Missouri
Trichomalopsis braconophagus Parasite
Tridomyrmex purpureus Predator
Trochosa ruricola Predator
Vairimorpha mesnili Pathogen
Vespula pensylvanica Predator
Winthemia lateralis Parasite Larvae
Zenillia dolosa Parasite Larvae
Zenillia libatrix Parasite Larvae

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Hymenopteran parasitoids are probably the most important natural enemies of Pieris rapae, particularly Cotesia glomeratus, Cotesia rubecula, Pteromalus puparum and Trichogramma spp. (Hassan, 1976; Kilincer, 1982; Laing and Levin, 1982; Hu, 1983; Mushtaque and Mohyuddin, 1986). Most of the important parasitoids have been introduced as biological control agents into countries such as the USA, Australia and China, where P. rapae has been accidentally introduced (Yin et al., 1989). Although natural enemies are very important in regulating populations of P. rapae, they seldom provide sufficient control by themselves for effective crop protection; only those tabulated cause significant mortality in the field.

Classical control was carried out in a number of countries:
Australia: partial control achieved (Wilson, 1960)
New Zealand: substantial control achieved (Cameron et al., 1989, 1995)
Canada: parasitoids established (Corrigan, 1983)
USA: substantial control according to Clausen (1978)


Top of page Pieris rapae is a very serious pest of crucifers in Europe, North America, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand. Unless controlled, damage from P. rapae larvae can result in total crop loss (Hely et al., 1982).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page The single, pale yellow, spindle shaped eggs of Pieris rapae are easily detected on the outer leaves of cruciferous crops. Evidence of larval feeding is also readily observed.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Pieris rapae is similar to a number of other European/North American pierid butterflies, such as Pieris napi and Pieris brassicae. However, most are non-pest species, except for P. brassicae which although coloured and patterned similarly to P. rapae is distinguished from it by being significantly larger.

Prevention and Control

Top of page Chemical Control

Insecticides have been used to control Pieris rapae since crucifers have been cultivated. Generally, insecticides have to be applied every one or two weeks to achieve good crop quality and this has led to numerous instances of insecticide resistance in P. rapae (Chou et al., 1984; Han et al., 1987). Pesticide applications should begin when the P. rapae population reachs a threshold of one larva per plant. Spraying should be repeated every 5-7 days as needed.

In recent years, good control has been achieved using managed spray or IPM programmes (Leibee et al., 1984; Theunissen, 1984; Stewart and Sears, 1988; Ferguson and Barratt, 1993). These generally combine close monitoring of pest and natural enemy populations with judicious applications of selective pesticides (Jackson and Hartley, 1982; Endersby et al., 1992; Forster and Hommes, 1992; Dornan et al., 1994). Thresholds for chemical and/or biological control of P. rapae have been developed in a number of countries. In Canada, timing of an insecticide treatment based on an action threshold of one larva/plant (57% infestation), produced quality cabbage heads for storage or the fresh market. Treatment when an average of three larvae per plant (87% infestation) occurred, resulted in cabbages suitable for processing (Mailloux and Belloncik, 1995).

Host-Plant Resistance

Some attempts have been made to breed varieties of crucifers resistant to P. rapae with only limited success (Dickson and Eckenrode, 1978; Shelton et al., 1988). Resistant varieties include Mammoth, Red Rock, Chieftan, Savoy, Savoy Perfection and Drumhead.

Cultural Control

New plantings should be as far as possible from those of the previous season. At the end of the season crops should be harvested without delay and plant residues should be ploughed under or destroyed. Intercropping and trap crops have had limited success as methods of controlling P. rapae (Kenny and Chapman, 1988; Luther et al., 1996; Wiech, 1996). Both strategies are likely to have some value in IPM systems based on pesticides or natural enemies.

Biological Control

Biever et al. (1994) developed a biological control system for P. rapae based on natural enemies for 53 hectares of cabbage in Texas. In Bermuda, a parasitic wasp, Pteromallus puparum, was introduced for control in 1987.

Much use has been made of bacterial (primarily Bacillus thuringiensis) and viral preparations against P. rapae. These formulations are usually compatible with natural enemies and form the basis of many IPM systems for P. rapae (Goral et al., 1984; Su, 1986, 1989, 1991; Webb and Shelton, 1991).

Classical biological control has been carried out in a number of countries using Cotesia glomerata, Cotesia rubecula, Pteromalus puparum, Compsilura concinnata or Phryxe vulgaris. In Australia (Wilson, 1960) partial control was achieve. In New Zealand (Cameron et al., 1989, 1995) and in the USA (Clausen 1978) substantial control was achieved. In Canada, parasitoids have beeen established (Corrigan, 1983).


Top of page

Anonymous, 1952. Pieris rapae (L.). Commonwealth Institute of Entomology, London. Series A, Map No. 19:1-2.

APPPC, 1987. Insect pests of economic significance affecting major crops of the countries in Asia and the Pacific region. Technical Document No. 135. Bangkok, Thailand: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific region (RAPA).

AVA, 2001. Diagnostic records of the Plant Health Diagnostic Services, Plant Health Centre, Agri-food & Veterinary Authority, Singapore.

Bélair G; Fournier Y; Dauphinais N, 2003. Efficacy of steinernematid nematodes against three insect pests of crucifers in Quebec. Journal of Nematology, 35(3):259-265.

Bhat DM; Bhagat RC, 2009. Natural parasitism of Pieris rapae (L.) and Pontia daplidice (L.) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) on cruciferous crops in Kashmir Valley (India). American-Eurasian Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Science, 5(4):590-591.

Biever KD; Hostetter DL; Kern JR, 1994. Evolution and implementation of a biological control-IPM system for crucifers: 24-year case history. American Entomologist, 40(2):103-108; 8 ref.

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