The Cabbage White butterfly

Ahhh…the Cabbage White butterfly…this common little guy/gal is one that does bring joy to many children although it isn't one that is quite as brilliantly coloured as many. Its larvae (caterpillars) are a bane to farmers and vegetable gardeners; many also don't realize that the larvae become such darling little butterflies!

The Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) is a small to medium (wingspan of 1 3/4" to 2 1/4") butterfly that is one of the first to be seen in the Spring. It is a member of the Whites and Sulphur (Pieridae) family. This butterfly is found just about everywhere in the United States (North America).

One of the reasons the larvae are considered a pest is because the Cabbage White's host plant is found in the Brassicaceae family, commonly known as those in the mustards! So, if you plant such crops as cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, radish, broccoli, watercress, … then you might end up with some of the 'babies' of this butterfly! Nasturtiums are a member of this family as well.

Eggs are laid singly on the undersides of leaves and are a pale white/cream colour in a football shape. Soon, a little green caterpillar will hatch, and often is so well-camouflaged that you won't even know you have any munchers until your plant has begun to lose leaves!

The larvae are quite beautiful to behold, IF you aren't a farmer whose crops are being eaten away.

After pretty much completely devouring the host plant, the larva will wander off to find a place to pupate. The chrysalis is somewhat unusual looking. This butterfly does not hang down in the J-position nor does it make a sling like the swallowtails. Nope, instead, it sort of gloms on, looking almost like some sort of 'other' critter larvae! This picture was help upwards to show the front of the pupa. The caterpillar had actually pupated on the toilet tissue that was on the lid of a container.

After about two weeks, a pretty little butterfly will eclose.