Cabbage White Butterfly

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ODNR 031205

Cabbage white butterflies (Pieris rapae) get their name from the plants that they are typically found around – cabbage plants – and other members of the mustard family, including mustard, broccoli, and cauliflower. These are the host plants for cabbage butterfly caterpillars. Adults will feed on the nectar of these plants as well as from dandelions, red clover, aster and mints. During the day, males search for females. Females lay eggs, one at a time, on the underneath of host leaves. The chrysalis hibernate before opening to reveal a fully developed adult.

The uppersides of their 1.75 -2.25 inch wings are white. The forewings have a black tip. There are two black spots on the wing margins of females; only one on males. The underneath of both the hindwings and forewings are a greenish-yellow.

Cabbage butterflies are found throughout all of Ohio, preferring open spaces, such as weedy areas, gardens, and roadsides in either rural or urban settings. They are commonly seen in vegetable gardens, where they lay their eggs. Evidence of cabbage butterfly caterpillars includes holes in the leaves of its host plants, sometimes destroying the plant. For this reason, the cabbage butterfly is not always a welcomed guest. A relative of the cabbage white, the mustard white butterfly, has been extirpated from Ohio.

See Also