Canary Large White

Pieris cheiranthi


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La Palma - April 2001

Pieris cheiranthi

Distribution - also found in Madeira

These are the only shots I got of Canary large white during a week on La Palma in 2001. The butterflies were highly mobile, stopping briefly and flying before close approach was possible. The first picture, I think, was taken with a very primitive digital camera and the four below were extracted from video frames. I need to return to the Canaries for better pictures of this and other endemic butterflies.

Though obviously closely related to the large white, this is uncontroversially a good species. Apart from the obvious differences in adult appearance - notably the female, with her conjoined discal spots - there are biochemical differences, structural differences in the egg, ecological differences and behavioural differences (large white is strongly migratory while this species is sedentary). In addition, being restricted to a subtropical environment, the Canary large white has no diapause stage (the large white hibernates as a pupa).

The species flies on La Palma, Tenerife and possibly Gran Canaria. It is reportedly extinct on Gomera. It also flies in Madeira - ssp. Wollastoni.