Cabbage butterflies

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From cabbage white there are two different types: the large cabbage white (Pieris brassicae) and the small Kohlweißling (Pieris rapae, photo above). Both are butterflies of the family Weißlinge. The small cabbage white is one of the most common butterflies in Central Europe. The white-tailed family also includes the lemon moth (Gonepteryx rhamni), which at first glance can easily be confused with the large cabbage white. His wings, however, are more sharply pointed.


The whitish yellow large cabbage white reaches a wingspan of four to six centimeters. The forewings have black tips, the wings of the females are additionally provided with two black dots. In addition, the underside of the hind wings of the females is usually dusted a little stronger than that of the males. The caterpillars of the butterfly become up to four inches long, are yellow-green and black spotted.
The small cabbage white is slightly yellowish compared to the large cabbage white and its drawing a little paler. The wings of this kind reach four centimeters wingspan. The caterpillars are greenish and about 2.5 inches long. They occur - in contrast to the caterpillars of the Great Cabbage White - only one by one.

Occurrence of cabbage white species

The Great Cabbage White is native to North Africa to northern Scandinavia. The small cabbage white is also widespread in Europe and North Africa and occurs additionally in the Canary Islands. This species is found almost everywhere where their food crops are common. Cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables (Brassicaceae), as well as caperaceae (Capparaceae) and foxtail family (Chenopodiaceae) belong to the fodder plants of the small cabbage white. While their caterpillars feed on the leaves of the fodder plants, adult moths live on nectar.

way of life

The animals of both species fly from April or May and produce two to three generations per year. Above all, the second-generation caterpillars cause considerable feeding damage to the affected plants as of July. The yellow eggs of the first generation are deposited mainly on wild herbs from the family of the cruciferae (Brassicaceae), later the butterflies attach the eggs directly to the undersides of the cabbage leaves. The hatched caterpillars begin to feed on the leaves immediately and shed several times until they reach their final size.

Cabbage white caterpillar

Cabbage wheat caterpillar on a broccoli florin

Once the cabbage white caterpillars are ready to pupate, they leave their food plants. The overwintering of the cabbage white occurs in the pupal stage, for example in wall joints or fences.


Typical damage of the cabbage white are a strong pitting on cabbage leaves as well as the fouling of the cabbages with feces. The hunger of the caterpillars is sometimes so great that often only leaf skeletons remain - this phenomenon is also referred to as skeletal feeding. In addition to numerous types of cabbage such as white cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts Kohlrabi and nasturtium are also popular forage plants.
The small cabbage white is one of the most significant pests in agriculture and vegetable growing. The main damage - caused by the feeding of caterpillars - usually occurs from June on. The larvae of this species feed on the heads of the cabbage plants in the course of the infestation, which often leads to the death of the plants. Therefore, preventive and control measures should be taken before the butterfly fly.
The big cabbage white is not as dreaded as a vegetable pest like his little relative, but he also attacks various types of cabbage. Especially the second generation, which occurs from July to September, can cause major damage.


A mixed culture of cabbage, tomatoes and celery prevents an attack with the cabbage white, because the strongly aromatic plants divert the moths from the coveted cabbage plants. Even before the butterfly flight launched cultural protection networks help to repel the pests. In addition, regularly check the undersides of the leaves of your cabbage plants, as the cabbage whites deposit their pale yellow eggs there.

Control of cabbage white

Anyone who sees the pretty butterfly dancing in its own vegetable garden should not resort to insecticides directly. With a slight infestation, it is often enough to collect the caterpillars of the beautiful butterflies and relocate them to other fodder plants in the area. However, this should be done at an early stage before the development of the cabbage hearts, so that the larvae can not crawl in it.
In addition to various species of birds, parasitic wasps are the most important natural enemies of the cabbage white butterfly. Who does not want to tolerate the butterfly in his vegetable patch, should settle wasps in his garden and promote. But beware: their yellowish cocoons are easily confused with the eggs of the cabbage white.
It is also possible to control the caterpillars of the cabbage whites with biological preparations based on the parasitic bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. The leaves of the plants are sprayed on the top and bottom with the preparation. However, this direct control should only be considered when all other measures have been ineffective.
Incidentally, those who bring out more nettle broth in their garden can expect an increase in the number of cabbage whitefish, since the application of the broth attracts the butterflies.

Video Board: Eliminate Cabbage Worm & Cabbage Butterfly In The Garden | Organic Pest Control | Pieris rapae.

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