The Pieridae are a large family of butterflies with about 76 genera containing approximately 1,100 species, mostly from tropical Africa and Asia.[1] 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.[2]

It is believed that the name "butterfly" originated from a member of this family — the Brimstone Gonepteryx rhamni — which was called the "butter-coloured fly" by early British naturalists.[2]

The sexes usually differ, often in the pattern or number of the black markings.

The larvae (caterpillars) of a few of these species, such as Pieris brassicae and Pieris rapae, commonly seen in gardens, feed on brassicas, and are notorious agricultural pests.


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