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Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage White Butterfly

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.

Description and Identification


Cabbage White Caterpillar
Cabbage White Butterfly Larvae

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.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Pieris
  • Common names: Small White, Small Cabbage White, White Butterfly (in New Zealand)
  • Scientific Name: Pieris rapae


Cabbage White Pupa
Cabbage White Butterfly Chrysalis

The chrysalis is greenish in color that changes to pale green to light brown with aging and remain attached to the host plant leaves.

Adult Butterfly

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.

Male Cabbage White
Female Cabbage White

Average wingspan: 32 to 47 mm (1.3 to 1.9 in)

Flight pattern: Rapid and erratic


Cabbage White Eggs

Yellow in color with an elongated, bottle-like shape and an uneven surface, laid one at a time

Quick Facts

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.
Cabbage White Butterfly Pictures
Cabbage White
Picture of Cabbage White Butterfly
Pieris Rapae
Small Cabbage White Butterfly
Small White

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Pieris
  • Common names: Small White, Small Cabbage White, White Butterfly (in New Zealand)
  • Scientific Name: Pieris rapae