Cabbage White Butterfly

Pieris rapae

Other names: Pieris fuscomaculatus

Family: - Pieridae

Order: - Lepidoptera



Colour - White. Pale yellow on the underside.

Body - Medium size. Long hair scales.

Wings - 2 Pairs. Membranous. Hairy. Wing-span 50mm. White on top, yellow underneath. The male has one, and the female has 2 black spots and on each forewing

Mouthparts -

Antennae - 3 segments. Filiform (Finely hair like). Short.

Legs - Broad overlapping scales. Feet (Tarsi) have 5 segments.

Head - Broad overlapping scales. Large rounded compound eyes.

Thorax - Broad overlapping scales. 3 segments. Front segment much smaller. Hairy

Abdomen - Broad overlapping scales. 7-11 segments. Spiracles on segments 1-7. Hairy

Egg - Conical. Ridged vertically and horizontally. 2mm. Laid singly or in groups. Yellow.

Habits - Can't fly when cold.

Caterpillar -

Colour - Green with a fine pale yellow stripe down its back.

Body - Stout. Smooth with short fine hairs. Cylindrical. 25-35mm long, 5-10mm wide.

Mouthparts - Chewing.

Antennae - Short. 3 segments.

Legs - 5 segments. Single claw on end.

Head - Hard.

Thorax - 10-11 segments. Spiracles on segments 1 to 8. Prolegs on segments 3, 6 and 10.

Abdomen -

Habits - Herbivorous.

Pupa - angular often with 2 spines or ridges in the middle. Pale grey. Hidden.


Life Cycle:

Several generations each year. Butterflies are seen in spring, summer and autumn.

Eggs are laid on the host plant singly or in batches. Caterpillar eats the leaves.


Origin and History:



Native to Europe. Probably introduced into Australia in 1937 in cabbages.

Caterpillar is a major pest of cruciferous crops such as cabbages. It also attacks cruciferous ornamentals and weeds and nasturtiums. It eats the softer parts of the leaf first often starting from the edges. Most damage usually occurs from January to late autumn.

Management and Control:

In most years control is not economic.

Related Species:

Milkweed butterflies

Similar Species:


CSIRO. The Insects of Australia. Melbourne University Press. (1991) p64egg,231, 896-897.

Goode, J. Insects of Australia. Angus and Robertson. p87.

Jacobs, W. and Renner, M. Taschenlexikon zur Biologie der Insekten. Gustav Fischer Verlag. p45.

Victorian Department of Agriculture. Insect Bulletins. p23.


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