San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
Cabbage White, photo by Bob Parks

Pieris rapae
Cabbage White

Family: Pieridae (Whites and Sulphurs)


The Cabbage White is possibly the most common butterfly species in the world. It has a wingspan of 1 5/8 - 2 1/4 inches and is basically white with the forewing tip black. The undersides are yellowish-green.

Range and Habitat

This species was introduced from Europe around 1860. It prefers open weedy areas, cities, gardens, agricultural fields, and ranges from the coast to the desert.

Natural History

Host plants are members of the cabbage or mustard family (Brassicaceae). In California it has been known to feed on a wide range of plants, including nasturtiums and alyssum. Females lay their eggs singly. The pupa is green and attached at two points to the substrate, upon which the caterpillar pupated. On sunny days, dozens of Cabbage Whites may be seen in fallow fields with mustard or wild radish growing in them.

Related or Similar Species

Checkered White, California Ringlet

Text by Margi Dykens and Christian Manion.
Photo by Bob Parks.

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