The Pieris Project

University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN

Nebraska Chapter
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Department of Entomology
103 Entomology Hall
Lincoln, NE 68583

Through The Pieris Project, based out of the University of Notre Dame, citizen scientists can help study the effects of human activities on biodiversity, using the cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae). You may have seen these small white butterflies in your vegetable garden. Believed to have originally come from Europe, this butterfly has invaded many parts of the world and is now one of the most successful and abundant butterflies on the planet.

Nebraska Residents:
Glassine envelopes can be obtained from Entomology Hall. Collected specimens can be dropped off at Entomology Hall for shipment. Drop off must be pre-arranged! Contact Louise I. Lynch with questions at

Getting Started:
  1. CATCH. Adults can be found flying around gardens and along dirt roads. Search plants that belong to the cabbage familt (mustard, kale, radish, broccoli, etc.). You might capture the adults while they visit flowers to sip nectar or while they congregate around puddles to collect salts. Do not collect more than 5 to 10 cabbage white butterflies in one area.
  2. VERIFY. Adults have mostly white wings. The forewings often have gray black tips with one (male) or two (female) black spots.
  3. LABEL. Put the butterflies collected from one location in a glassine envelope. Label it with the date (month/day/year) and location. Get coordinates using your iPhone or Android phone.
  4. FREEZE. Freezing is a human way to euthanize the butterflies. Do not remove the specimens until you are ready to ship them. Refreezing shears the DNA into little pieces, thereby destroying the genetic data that the research team needs.
  5. SHIP. There are two ways to ship your specimens. You can mail them directly to the Pieris Project or you can arrange a drop off at Entomlogy Hall and we will ship them for you.
  6. The Pieris Project (ATTN: Sean Ryan), 186 Galvin Life Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556.
  7. Contact us and arrange a drop off at Entomology Hall, 1700 East Campus Loop, Lincoln, NE 68583. Specimens must be appropriately labelled in glassine envelopes for shipping when dropped off.
Visit the Pieris Project Home Page at Notre Dame.
Contact us to get Nebraska Pieris Project email updates.