New Jersey Butterflies

Cabbage White

Pieris rapae

Identification: Small—1.7". Above: Male mostly white with dark smudges at FW tips and one black spot on FW. Females similar but with 2 black spots in FW. Below: Black spots and dark smudges difficult to see. Individuals with light yellowish hindwings below are fairly common. Some spring emergers with reduced black spots can look almost completely white, and thus are sometimes mistaken for West Virginia Whites, which have not been reported in NJ for many years.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Probably the most common and ubiquitous butterfly in NJ and 1 of 2 non-native species (the other is European Skipper). This is the common, small, white butterfly that one sees patrolling roadsides. It is common in every county.

NJ Range Map-Cabbage White

Habitat: Everywhere except interior woodland.

Flight Period: Several overlapping broods resulting in one extended flight period from mid-March to October. Extreme dates: North Jersey 1/29—11/30; South Jersey 2/27—12/31.

Larval Food Plants: Plants in the mustard family, including crops.

Overwintering Stage: Pupa.

Best Locations: Anywhere and everywhere.

Comments: This is one of just a few species of butterfly that can be reliably identified while driving 70 mph. Out west, where several similar-looking species occur, is a different story.



Cabbage White

Male, High Point SP, Sussex Co., NJ, 9/13/11, on White Snakeroot.


Cabbage White

Female, Wallkill River NWR, Sussex Co., NJ, 6/23/05.


Cabbage White

Male, Stahl Natural Area, Somerset Co., NJ, 8/15/12, on Birdsfoot Trefoil.


Cabbage White

Kay Environmental Ctr., Morris Co., NJ, 7/11/06, on Spotted Knapweed.


Cabbage White

Fredon Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 8/15/10, on Hoary Mountain-Mint.


Cabbage White

Glenhurst Meadows, Somerset Co., NJ, 6/29/12.


Cabbage White

Walpack Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 8/3/12, on Spotted Knapweed.


Cabbage White

Kittatinny Valley SP, Sussex Co., NJ, 6/14/12, on Indianhemp.


Cabbage White

Howell Twp., Monmouth Co., NJ, 7/29/08, on Spotted Knapweed.


Cabbage White

Metuchen, Middlesex Co., NJ, 9/3/07.


Cabbage White arva

Larva on Bok Choy.


Cabbage White pupa

Pupa.