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The methanolic extract of milk thistle, Silybium marianum L. (Asterales: Asteraceae), was investigated for its effects on the mortality, growth, feeding indices, enzymatic activity, and levels of non-enzymatic molecules of the small white butterfly, Pieris rapae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae), a pest of cruciferous plants. Feeding indices including approximate digestibility (AD), efficiency of conversion of digested food (ECD), efficiency of conversion of ingested food (ECI), relative growth rate (RGR), and relative consumption rate (RCR) were measured. These indices were variously affected: the RGR, RCR, and AD decreased, but the ECD and ECI increased. The LC50 and LC25 values were estimated as 2.94% and 1.20%, respectively. At the lowest concentration of S. marianum extract (0.625%), the feeding deterrence index was 40.48%. The duration of the pupal stage and the rate of larval growth decreased. These changes may be due to alterations in metabolic activity, such as the increase in alkaline phosphatase activity, which is likely involved in detoxification. Additionally, the activities of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase, which are key components of amino acid catabolism, decreased. The amount of glucose (an energy source) and uric acid (the excreted end product) increased, while total protein (another energy source) and cholesterol decreased. These results indicate that this plant possesses potential secondary metabolites that may be useful for the future study of the control of insect pests.