This family contains butterflies that are mainly white or yellow. The Whites belong to Subfamily Pierinae, while the Yellows to Subfamily Coliadinae.
Whites (Subfamily Pierinae)
There are 7 species in this subfamily. They are not all white, but have black markings and some even have yellow and orange markings.
Painted Jezebel (Delias hyparete metarete)
Red Base Jezebel (Delias pasithoe parthenope)
Psyche (Leptosia nina malayana)
Cabbage White (Pieris canidia canidia)
Striped Albatross (Appias libythea olferna)
Chocolate Albatross (Appias lyncida vasava)
Great Orange Tip (Hebomoia glaucippe aturia)
Yellows (Subfamily Coliadinae)
There are 10 species in Singapore - 6 Grass Yellows (Eurema sp.), 3 Emigrants (Catopsilia sp.), 1 Tree Yellow (Gandaca sp.). They all belong to the Family Pieridae, which also contains the Whites (Subfamily Pierinae). The Grass Yellows all look alike except for subtle differences. At first glance, they are just plain yellow. On closer look, one can see dark patterns on the underwings. In the following discussions, the largest spot in the underside of the forewings is not counted. Hence, although the Three Spot Grass Yellow appears to have four spots, it is actually called Three Spot Grass Yellow.
Anderson's Grass Yellow (Eurema andersonii andersonii)
Distinguished by one spot on the underside of the forewings and the lack of a large chocolate patch on the apex, although some might have dark patches at the apex (compare to Chocolate Grass Yellow).
Three Spot Grass Yellow (Eurema blanda snelleni)
Distinguished by three spots on the underside of the forewings.
No Brand Grass Yellow (Eurema brigitta senna)
Distinguished by lack of black spots on the underside of the forewings. Also the underwings appear dirty yellow due to the tiny black specks all over the underwings.
Common Grass Yellow (Eurema hecabe contubernalis)
Distinguished by two black spots on the undersides of the forewings and lack of a large brown patch at the underside of the apex, although some might have brown patches near the apex (compare to Hill Grass Yellow).
Chocolate Grass Yellow (Eurema sari sodalis)
Distinguished by a large chocolate patch at the underside of the forewing apex and only one spot on the underside of the forewings.
Hill Grass Yellow (Eurema simulatrix tecmessa)
Distinguished by a large brown patch at the underside of the forewing apex and two spots on the underside of the forewings.
The Emigrants are also generally yellowish in colour, but can be distinguished as follows:
Lemon Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona pomona)
Distinguished from the grass yellows by the lack of black spots on the underside of the forewings. However, this butterfly has many forms. One of the form does have some spots on the underwing, but these are different from the grass yellows'. There's also a form that is white on the underwing.
Left: White underwing form at Pasir Ris Park ©Sylvia Chua. Right: Yellow underwing form at Bukit Panjang ©Eddy lee
Mottled Emigrant (Catopsilia pyranthe pyranthe)
Distinguished from the Lemon Emigrant by having mottled pattern on the underwing, hence its name.
Orange Emigrant (Catopsilia scylla cornelia)
Distinguished by having whitish upper forewings and more orangy upper hindwings. The undewing pattern is similar to the grass yellows, but can be told apart by the black dots on the hind and fore wings form a line.
The Tree Yellow is the only one of its genus.
Tree Yellow (Gandaca harina distanti)
It can be confused with the Lemon Emigrant as it is plain yellow. However, it does have a dark crescent on the forewing tip and the shape of its forewing is more rounded rather than pointed.