The larvae occur especially on Brassicaceae as especially cultivated Brassica species. In addition, the caterpillars live also on Reseda and Tropaeoleum.
Pieris rapae inhabits open land, especially agricultural land. The butterfly is observed more rarely also in larger woodland clearings or grove dominated habitats. The caterpillars live in contrast to those of Pieris napi more in the full sun. I found them also in clearings in a floodplain woodland on Reseda.
Pieris rapae occurs in three or four generations from April to October, often even sooner or later. The pupa overwinters. The caterpillars live from May to November. The butterflies are especially common in August/September.
The distribution extends from north Africa across Europe, Asia to Japan. Elsewhere Pieris rapae was naturalized (Australia, USA).