Floridata Article

Cabbage Butterfly (Pieris rapae)

Cabbage Butterfly
Habitat: Open, disturbed sites including roadsides, fallow agricultural land, and vegetable gardens Garden Abundance: High Wingspan: 1.5 to 2.0 in Larval Host Plants: Wild and cultivated plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), including peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum), wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata), broccoli (B. o. var. botrytis), collards (B. o. var. acephala) and turnips (B. rapus) Favorite Adult Nectar Sources: Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum), and purpletop verbena (Verbena bonariensis)

Undoubtedly the most familiar backyard butterfly, the cabbage butterfly (also called the European cabbage white) was accidentally introduced into the New World from Europe around 1860. Today, the cabbage butterfly can be found throughout most of North America. Fond of almost any open, sunny area, adults are frequently encountered in gardens, disturbed sites, vacant lots, fields, farmland and along roadsides. Often a serious agricultural pest, the caterpillars of the cabbage butterfly eat almost any plant in the mustard family. “Cabbageworms“, as the larvae are called, are green with tiny black dots and thin yellow stripes. They are covered with fine white hairs giving an overall velvety appearance. Adults readily visit many different flowering plants.

Although extremely abundant, the cabbage butterfly should not be hastily overlooked. The delicate white and yellow markings of this lazy flier exhibit a rather pristine beauty matched by few other species.

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