Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
The Cabbage White is a species of very common white butterflies found everywhere in Asia and Europe, though their exact place of origin is yet unknown. These are small- to medium-sized butterflies found flying in numbers especially during the late spring and the summer months. Though smaller by size, the species is often confused with the large white because of the similarity in appearance.
- Family: Pieridae
- Genus: Pieris
- Common names: Small White, Small Cabbage White, White Butterfly (in New Zealand)
- Scientific Name: Pieris rapae
Description and Identification
The mature larva has a green to bluish-green coloration, with a black ring and small black pints around the spiracles. It also has a lateral row of dashes and a yellow mid-dorsal line, both in yellow. As an adaptation for camouflage, their green coloration makes them almost invisible to predators, when they sit on the leaves.
The chrysalis is greenish in color that changes to pale green to light brown with aging and remain attached to the host plant leaves.
Sexual Dimorphism: Present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side in the male displays a creamy white coloration with a single black spot on the primary wings, whereas the female is rather pale yellowish, with two black spots placed somewhere around the center. When the wings are closed, the ventral side exhibits a yellowish tinge along with some black speckles.
Average wingspan: 32 to 47 mm (1.3 to 1.9 in)
Flight pattern: Rapid and erratic
Yellow in color with an elongated, bottle-like shape and an uneven surface, laid one at a time
|Distribution||Native to Asia, Europe and also in North Africa|
|Habitat||Any kind of open space like human-made gardens, roadsides, cities, weedy areas, and suburbs|
|Lifespan of adults||Up to 3 weeks|
|Host plants||Prefers mostly plants belonging to the mustard (Brassicaceae) family|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar|
Did You Know?
- This species has such a plain appearance that it is often mistaken for a moth.
- The species was accidentally introduced to North America, Bermuda, Australia, and New Zealand.
- In the US, the caterpillar of the species is known as the ‘imported cabbageworm and is a common pest on cultivated vegetables like cabbage (mostly, from which they get their name), horseradish, kale, radish, and broccoli.