Butterflies: Cabbage White

Photo of Cabbage White

Few New England butterflies fly as early and as late in the year as the Cabbage White. This relative newcomer to the states is now widely established in areas of disturbance and cultivation. Viewed with wings closed, both 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 .

Photo of Cabbage White (male)

As their name suggests, Cabbage White larvae feed on cabbage, along with many other wild and cultivated plants of the Brassicaceae family. A few weeks back, along the south coast of Maine, I noticed dozens of these butterflies flying near patches of Wild Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), so I suspect this species is a popular larval foodplant.

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 seems still able to enjoy the sweet nectar of life.

Photo of Worn Cabbage White

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