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Butterflies of North America -- Pieris rapae

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Butterflies of North America

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
JPG -- species photo

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.

References:

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

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
distribution map
map legend

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