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Species Pieris rapae - Cabbage White - Hodges#4197

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Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Pieridae (Whites, Sulphurs, Yellows)
Subfamily Pierinae (Whites)
Tribe Pierini (Cabbage Whites, Checkered Whites, Albatrosses)
Genus Pieris
Species rapae (Cabbage White - Hodges#4197)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Small Cabbage White, Small White
Explanation of Names
RAPAE: from the Latin "rapa" (turnip); Cabbage (Brassica oleracea) and other members of the genus such as Brassica rapa (commonly known as Field Mustard or Rape) are members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae, formerly Cruciferae), which are the larval food plants
abundant in many parts of its range
wingspan 30-50 mm (1)
larva length to 35 mm
Adult: upperside of wings white or pale yellowish-white with black tip on forewing; upperside of female forewing has two black spots; male has one. Both sexes have one black spot well out along front margin on upperside of hindwing.
Underside of forewing white with yellowish apex and two black discal spots in both sexes; underside of hindwing uniformly pale yellow in both sexes.
Larva: green or bluish-green with thin yellow dorsal line (sometimes faint or absent) and lateral line composed of pairs of yellow spots, the anterior spot of each pair with a black central dot; body covered with short fine hair.
Throughout North America (1) (which is the nominate subspecies), and many parts of the world.
All habitats, including bogs, meadows, woods, and backyard gardens. Prefers open spaces but may also be found in treed areas, as noted above.
Adults fly from early spring to September (1); mid-April to mid-October in southern Ontario; shorter season farther north, and longer season farther south
Caterpillars eat cabbage and many other crucifers and related plants. (1)
Adults nectar from a very wide array of plants, including mustard, dandelion, red clover, aster, and mint.
Life Cycle
Female lays single eggs on undersides of host leaves. Overwinters as a pupa inside a chrysalis attached to some substrate. Two or three generations per year in southern Canada; up to several generations in the southern states.

1. Egg. 2. First instar caterpillar. 3. Later instar. 4. Pupa. 5. Adult female. 6. Adult male
Introduced accidentally near Montreal in the 1860s, this species has become an important pest. Bacterial and viral diseases now provide some biological control. (1)
The non-native parasitic wasps Cotesia glomerata and C. rubecula have been introduced as biocontrols for this species and for Pieris brassica in New Zealand. C. rubecula seems more effective in parasitizing this butterfly. (Cornell University).
See Also
Best distinguished from other whites by the black spots on the upperside of the forewing, and the yellow hindwing below.
Print References
Milne (1)
Internet References
pinned and live adult and larva images plus description, distribution, abundance, flight season, habitats (Butterflies of Canada)
live larva image (M. & P. Coupar, Museum Victoria, Australia)
Works Cited
1.National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders
Lorus and Margery Milne. 1980. Knopf.