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Pieris napi (Linnaeus, 1758)   

Name in Tolman & Lewington (1997): Artogeia napi, Artogeia balcana

Systematics: Within this very variable taxon two species are reported for the Balkan Peninsula and Bulgaria - napi and  a second taxon referred to by various authors as Pieris preudorapae Verity, 1908 or Pieris balcana Lorković, [1970]. The last-mentioned taxon was described as a full species from former Yugoslavia, but its status remains controversial - even its author, the late Prof. Zdravko Lorković, seemed to doubt the existence of such a species in the latter years of his life (Kudrna 2002). The new Bulgarian records of this second taxon (Abadjiev 2001, Beshkov  & Langourov 2004) are also doubtful, as it is not clear what evidence they are based on. These records come from xerothermic regions at lower altitudes, which contradicts the original description stating that balcana is a more mountainous taxon than napi (Lorkovic [1970]). The defining character of (pseudorapae) balcana is said to be the more diffused (less sharp) dark scaling along the veins on the hindwing underside (see here). However the degree and sharpness of dark scaling in Bulgarian material studied by myself is highly variable and evidently is determined at least in part by environmental factors (e.g. the temperature during larval development). Clearly by itself such a character cannot be interpreted as being of taxonomic importance. Until further studies clarify the situation I consider that to accept the existence of two species of this group in Bulgaria serves no useful purpose.

Range: Temperate and subarctic Eurasia. The precise range and number of species in this widespread and complex group are unknown.

Distribution in Bulgaria: The whole country up to ca. 2000 m a.s.l., but single specimens occur even higher.

Habitat: Diverse grassy, forested and bushy places.

Bionomics: At least three generations from April till October. Larval host-plants: various Brassicaceae.

Conservation status: One of the most common and widespread butterflies in Bulgaria. IUCN category: Lower risk, least concern.


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