Few New England butterflies fly as early and as late in the year as the Cabbage White (Pieris rapae). This relative newcomer to North America is now widely established in areas of disturbance and cultivation. With wings closed, the sexes appear similar, with a single black spot on pale yellow to white wings. With wings spread, a black patch can be seen on the forewing tip, and females show two round spots where males (below) show just one.
As their name suggests, Cabbage White larvae feed on cabbage, along with many other wild and cultivated plants of the Mustard (Brassicaceae) family. I frequently encounter coastal Cabbage Whites on or near patches of Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum).
Butterflies don't live for very long, and as such they often remind me of how fleeting our lives can be. Despite irreparably worn wings, the creature below continues to enjoy the sweet nectar of life. To learn more about Cabbage Whites, visit the BugGuide.