A Large cabbage white butterfly, a close relative of the Small white butterfly, lives in Europe and is unique for its black dots on white wings and black wingtips.
Large Cabbage White Butterfly Species Summary
|Scientific Name||Pieris brassicae|
|Habitat||Farms, parks, gardens, grasslands, tree trunks, meadows|
|Range||Europe, Asia, South Africa|
|Host Plants||Cruciferous plants, brussels sprouts, nasturtium, thistles|
|Butterfly Description||White, with black dots on forewings and black wingtips|
|Caterpillar Description||White as soon as it hatches, goes through 5 instars|
The Large cabbage white butterfly is also known as the Large white butterfly, Summer snowflake, or Large white. This butterfly’s wingspan can reach more than 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) and is among larger butterflies.
This butterfly species has large white wings with black tips on the forewings. This black spot somewhat extends to the medial side, along the costal areas.
The female adult butterflies have two dark spots on the forewings — the males don’t have any. As for the ventral side, the base color is creamy white with two black markings. It’s very similar to Small cabbage white butterfly.
Caterpillar’s Instars Described
The Large cabbage caterpillar is white as soon as it hatches from the egg. It goes through 5 instars. The first change occurs after a few hours when it turns a pale yellow shade with a soft body and a brown head.
It has white hairs protruding from its thorax during this stage. When it transitions to the next stage and undergoes molting, the tubercles have black hair covering the entire body length.
The next time it molts (third brood), the larva becomes a large white lump with increased feeding activities. It will eventually turn a brighter shade of yellow than the first instar that it will carry over to the fourth instar, but with black dots peppering the entire thorax.
The fifth larval stage has the same color scheme on the upper side and a brighter thorax and abdomen. The caterpillar has a black or gray head before transitioning to the pupa or chrysalis stage.
Habitat and Range
The Large cabbage white butterfly thrives in large open spaces, grasslands, vegetable gardens, agricultural lands, and farms. It’s widespread in allotments intended for cabbage and other Brassicaceae plants. Other ideal Large cabbage white butterfly habitats include:
- Spots with moist and cool climates
- Tree trunks
When it comes to distribution, these butterflies migrate. This is why they’re seen in all parts of the world. Large cabbage white is present in Europe (Britain, British Isles, Ireland), Asia (Himalayas), and South Africa.
The female adult Large cabbage white butterflies lay their eggs and brood on the cruciferous plants, brussels sprouts, nasturtium, and thistles. Other host plants include:
- Wild mignonette
- Oil-seed rape
Caterpillars eat the host plants. The adult butterflies feed on the flower nectar of bluebell, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, thistles, cabbage, turnip, kohlrabi, and radishes.
They’ll also munch on knapweeds, bugle, ragworts, butterfly bush, wild marjoram, and dandelions. Other common food plants include:
- Common fleabane
- Devil’s-bit scabious
- Field scabious
- Wild teasel
How does large cabbage white pick food plants?
Unlike other butterfly species, the Large cabbage white butterfly relies on its past experiences to determine which food plants are the best.
The duration of exposure to particular host plants is one factor. Then, there’s the number of host plants in the area paired with the level of predator threats. These are some key factors affecting the butterfly’s future food preferences.
How do these butterflies breed?
Females can have more than one preferred partner if they wish to. However, many still prefer monogamy.
Adult females usually lay their eggs in large clusters and go for the undersides of the leaves to protect the eggs from threats. The butterfly uses the tip of its abdomen to place the eggs in the desired spot. The females prefer predominantly green plants as their sites for oviposition.
Similar to other butterfly species, the Large cabbage white butterflies have these animals and insects as their natural enemies:
- Small mammals
Is this butterfly considered a pest?
All cabbage butterflies are considered pests, including Large cabbage white. However, it’s not the adults that cause damage to plants. Caterpillars are the common culprit for defoliation, especially if an infestation occurs. Netting is one of the usual prevention methods, as it stops adults from laying eggs in protected plants.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?
Joan is a nocturnal person who loves traveling and coffee. She’s also an animal lover (and rescuer) who makes it a point to befriend every animal she meets. Her passion for learning led her to writing about various topics. As someone who is a nature lover, she aims to continue learning about the wonderful creation—especially butterflies, and at the same time, share her knowledge here at Butterfly Hobbyist.