Cabbage White (Pieris rapae [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 1 3/4 - 2 1/4 inches (4.5 - 5.8 cm).
Identification: Upperside of wings white; forewing with black tip. Two submarginal black spots in female, one in male. Underside of hindwing and forewing apex evenly yellow-green or gray-green. Spring and fall short-day form is smaller, less yellow, with reduced black areas.
Life history: Males patrol for females. Females lay single eggs on undersides of host leaves. Chrysalids hibernate.
Flight: Two to three in northern part of range; 7-8 in the south. It is usually the first butterfly to emerge in spring.
Caterpillar hosts: Many plants in the mustard (Brassicaceae) family and occasionally some in the caper family (Capparidaceae).
Adult food: Flower nectar from a very wide array of plants including mustards, dandelion, red clover, asters, and mints.
Habitat: Almost any type of open space including weedy areas, gardens, roadsides, cities, and suburbs.
Range: From central Canada south through the United States (except Florida Keys, southern Louisiana, and South Texas) to northwest Mexico.
Conservation: Not required.
Management needs: Ensure control steps do not affect other invertebrate fauna.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Glassberg, J. 1993. Butterflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Butterflies in the Boston-New York-Washington Region. Oxford Univ. Press, New York, N.Y. 160 pp. Opler, P.A. 1998. A field guide to eastern butterflies, revised format. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. Shapiro, A.M. 1966. Butterflies of the Delaware Valley. American Entomological Society Special Publication. Philadelphia, PA. 79 pp. Woodbury, E.N. 1994. Butterflies of Delmarva. Delaware Nature Society, Inc., Tidewater Publishers, Centreville, MD. 138 pp. [NOTE: this book only treats True Butterflies (Papilionoidea). It does not treat Skippers (Hesperioidea).]