Speculations Concerning the Large White Butterfly (Pieris brassicae L.): Do the Females Assess the Number of Suitable Host Plants Present?

  • Miriam Rothschild
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


I believe I owe the editors of this volume an apology. I am sure they expected a chapter by me relating to the oviposition of butterflies, and, what is more, I agreed to provide one. But my flea-like mind jumped off at a tangent. Instead of a chapter I am going to lay a little bit of speculation at Vince Dethier’s feet. In fact it is an act of homage, not of insubordinate second childhood.


Host Plant Glucosinolate Content Oviposition Deterrent Glucosinolate Concentration Suitable Host Plant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aplin RT, Ward R d’Arcy, Rothschild M (1975) Examination of the large white and small white butterflies (Pieris spp.) for the presence of mustard oils and mustard oil glycosides. J Entomol Ser A 50:73–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Behan M, Schoonhoven LM (1978) Chemoreception of an oviposition deterrent associated with eggs in Pieris brassicae. Entomol Exp Appl 24:163–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Calvert WH, Hanson FE (1983) The role of sensory structures and preoviposition behavior in oviposition by the patch butterfly, Chylosyne lacinia. Entomol Exp Appl 33:179–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chew FS, Robbins RK (1984) Egg-laying in Butterflies. In: Ackery PR, Vane-Wright RI (eds) Biology of Butterflies. Academic Press, London, pp 65–79Google Scholar
  5. David WAL, Gardiner BOC (1962) Oviposition and the hatching of the eggs of Pieris brassicae (L.) in a laboratory culture. Bull Entomol Res 53:91–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dempster JP (1967) The control ofPieris rapae with DDT. (I) The natural mortality of the young stages ofPieris. J Ecol 4:485–500Google Scholar
  7. Dixon CA, Erickson JM, Kellett DN, Rothschild M (1978) Some adaptations between Danaus plexippus and its food plant, with notes on Danaus chrysippus and Euploea core (Insecta: Lepidoptera). J Zool Lond 185:437–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Feeny P, Rosenberry L, Carter M (1983) Chemical aspects of oviposition behavior in butterflies. In: Ahmad S (ed) Herbivorous Insects. Academic Press, New York, pp 27–76Google Scholar
  9. Feltwell J (1982) The large white butterfly: biology, biochemistry and physiology of Pieris brassicae (Linnaeus). Junk, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  10. Hovanitz W, Chang VCS (1963) Ovipositional preference tests withPieris. J Res Lepid 2:185–200Google Scholar
  11. Ilse D (1937) New observations on responses to colours in egg-laying butterflies. Nature Lond 140:544–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ives PM (1978) How discriminating are cabbage butterflies? Aust J Ecol 3:261–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jones RE (1977) Movement patterns and egg distribution in cabbage butterflies. J Anim Ecol 46:195–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Klijnstra JW (1982) Perception of the oviposition deterrent pheromone in Pieris brassicae. In: Visser JH, Minks AK (eds) Proc 5th Int Symp Insect-Plant Relationships. Pudoc, Wageningen, pp 145–151Google Scholar
  15. Klijnstra JW (1985) Oviposition behaviour as influenced by the oviposition deterring pheromone in the large white butterfly, Pieris brassicae. Thesis, WageningenGoogle Scholar
  16. Kolb G, Scherer C (1982) Experiments on wavelength specific behavior of Pieris brassicae L. during drumming and egg-laying. J Comp Physiol A 149:325–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lundgren L (1975) Natural plant chemicals acting as oviposition deterrents on cabbage butterflies (Pieris brassicae L., P. rapae L. and P. napi L.). Zool Scr 4:253–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ma W-C, Schoonhoven LM (1973) Tarsal contact chemosensory hairs of the large white butterfly Pieris brassicae and their possible role in oviposition behaviour. Entomol Exp Appl 16:343–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Marsh N, Rothschild M (1974) Aposematic and cryptic Lepidoptera tested on the mouse. J Zool Lond 174:89–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mitchell ND (1977) Differential host selection by Pieris brassicae (the large white butterfly) on Brassica oleracea subsp. oleracea (the wild cabbage). Entomol Exp Appl 22:208–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Papaj DR, Rausher MD (1983) Individual variation in host location by phytophagous insects. In: Ahmad S (ed) Herbivorous Insects. Academic Press, New York, pp 77–124Google Scholar
  22. Prokopy RJ (1975) Oviposition-deterring fruit marking pheromone in Rhagoletis fausta. Environ Entomol 4:298–300Google Scholar
  23. Rausher MD (1979) Egg recognition: its advantage to a butterfly. Anim Behav 27:1034–1040CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rodman JE, Chew FS (1980) Phytochemical correlates of herbivory in a community of native and naturalized Crucifereae. Biochem Syst Ecol 8:43–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Root RB, Kareiva PM (1984) The search for resources by cabbage butterflies (Pieris rapae): ecological consequences and adaptive significance of markovian movements in a patchy environment. Ecology 65:147–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rothschild M, Schoonhoven LM (1977) Assessment of egg load by Pieris brassicae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Nature 266:352–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rothschild M, Gardiner BOC, Valadon G, Mummery R (1975) The large white butterfly: oviposition cues, carotenoids and changes of colour. Proc R Entomol Soc Lond C 40:13Google Scholar
  28. Rothschild M, Valadon G, Mummery R (1977) Carotenoids of the large white butterfly (Pieris brassicae) and the small white butterfly (Pieris rapae). J Zool Lond 181:323–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Traynier RMM (1979) Long-term changes in the oviposition behavior of the cabbage butterfly, Pieris rapae, induced by contact with plants. Physiol Entomol 4:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Van Etten CH, Tookey HL (1979) Chemistry and biological effects of glucosinolates. In: Rosenthal GA, Janzen DH (eds) Herbivores: Their Interaction with Secondary Plant Metabolites. Academic Press, New York, pp 471–500.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miriam Rothschild
    • 1
  1. 1.Ashton Wold, PeterboroughUK

Personalised recommendations