Cabbage White

Pieris rapae

Copyright, Edgar P. Spalding

The Cabbage White is our most common butterfly. They are mostly white with black markings and spots on the top of their wings. Underneath, the wings are yellowish-green.

Cabbage Whites are about two inches wide when their wings are spread.

Males and females can be told apart by their wing spots. Males only have one spot on each wing, while females have two.

Cabbage Whites can be seen just about anywhere there are open spaces, including fields, gardens, roadsides, waste places, parks, and cities.

Copyright 2002, Will Cook

Copyright, Dr. Ahmet Baytas

Copyright, Dr. Ahmet Baytas

Cabbage Whites are one of the first butterflies to be seen in the Spring, and one of the last to be seen in the Fall. They fly from late February to mid-November.

After mating, female Cabbage Whites lay single eggs on the undersides of host plants. Host plants are plants that the caterpillars need to eat. Cabbage White caterpillars eat plants from the Mustard family which includes cabbages and radishes.

Caterpillars begin eating as soon as they hatch. They are green with a light yellow stripe. They grow up to 3/4 inch.

Krischan Photography, http://www.krischanphoto.com

Photo: M. Keller

R. Grund

Young Cabbage White caterpillars feed on the undersides of leaves. Older caterpillars feed on the upper side and rest along leaf veins. Caterpillars will molt (shed their skins) five times before they turn into a chrysalis.

Cabbage White chrysalids are green or brown with points. The chrsyalids hibernate over the Winter and hatch into adult butterflies in the Spring.

Copyright, Jay Cossey, http://www.images.on.ca/JayC/

Copyright 2002, Will Cook

Adult Cabbage Whites get food from flower nectar. They visit many different flowers including dandelions, Red Clover, asters, mints, and Purple Loosestrife.

Cabbage Whites were introduced to America from Europe around 1860. They spread quickly and are found all over the world now.

Predators of Cabbage Whites include birds and other insects, such as mantids, beetles, and ants.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Butterfly Anatomy Diagram
Link to Printable Page
EnchantedLearning.com

Relationships in Nature:

FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Red Clover

Northern Mockingbird

Red Clover Po

Common Dandelion

Great Crested Flycatcher

Common Dandelion Po

Black-eyed Susan

Red-winged Blackbird

Black-eyed Susan Po

Buttonbush

American Robin

Buttonbush Po

Bird-foot Violet

Pennsylvania Firefly

Bird-foot Violet Po

Wild Strawberry

Northern Cardinal

Wild Strawberry Po

Chinese Mantid

Goldenrod Spider

Blue Jay

Eastern Bluebird

American Toad

Ring-legged Earwig

Green Lacewing

Common Whitetail

Common Yellowthroat

Relationship to Humans:

Some people think these butterflies are beautiful, others think they are pests. The caterpillars of Cabbage Whites are sometimes called "cabbage worms." They can cause a lot of damage to cabbage or radish crops if they are in large numbers.

Adult butterflies help pollinate plants by visiting them for nectar. This is good when they help plants grow that we like.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Arthropod
CLASS
Insect
ORDER
Lepidoptera
FAMILY
Pieridae
GENUS
Pieris
SPECIES
Pieris rapae

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