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Insects and other arthropods

Cabbage white

Pieris rapae

Tabs group


The wings of these butterflies are white on top and greenish-yellow beneath, and their bodies are black. The forewings have black tips and round black spots. The males and females can be distinguished by the number of spots on their forewings: the males have one per wing, and the females, two. Both sexes have a single black spot on their hindwings. Their wingspan varies from 3 to 5.8 cm.

The caterpillars are green or blue-green and covered with short, fine hairs. They are up to 3.5 cm long.

Life cycle

In mating season, the males can be seen flying over host plants in search of females. Once the females have been fertilized, they lay their eggs individually on the underside of leaves. The eggs hatch after about one week. The caterpillars are solitary. Those from the fall generation overwinter as chrysalises, otherwise adults emerge after three weeks.

There are two or three generations per year in southern Canada, and more farther south.

Geographic distribution

The species was accidentally introduced near Montréal in the 1860s, and has since spread throughout North America. It lives in many countries and is considered one of the most common butterflies in Europe.


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