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The European Cabbage White Butterfly is a charming visitor that leaves behind a notorious plant pest.
When spread flat, it is easy to see the charcoal gray coloring at the upper corners on the white, pale wings of the Cabbage White. Males have 1 black spot on the center of each forewing, while females have 2 spots in the same place. The color under the forewings may be yellow or light green and is visible if the wings are raised. A frequent visitor to vegetable patches, the Cabbage White adds whimsy to a garden scene. The unfortunate consequence of this may mean a caterpillar problem a few weeks later.
The green larva of the Cabbage White eats cabbage, nasturtiums and other plants related to mustard. It is covered with hairs and has 5 yellow lines running down its length. Because the caterpillar has a voracious appetite and usually has siblings nearby, the leaves of cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower can be chewed through in a matter days. Because of their destructive dietary needs, they are considered a garden pest and require population control in order to save harvests. The use of row covers when adults are seen in the area can reduce egg laying on host plants. This practice can help lessen chemical use on produce and reduce labor in the garden.
The abundant Cabbage White Butterfly can bee seen fluttering around from early spring to late autumn. They are well-adapted to living in urban areas. They can be found in fields, meadows, parks and gardens.
Scientific Name: Pieris rapae
Other Name(s): Small White; European Cabbage White
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 50mm (1.17in to 1.95in)
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Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.