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“‘Flighty’ Cabbage Butterfly” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Cabbage White Butterfly on Buddleja - Butterfly Bush, Snellville, Georgia, July 15, 2013

Cabbage White Butterfly on Buddleja – Butterfly Bush, Snellville, Georgia, July 15, 2013

As a young girl, the Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) – or Cabbage Butterfly, as I call it – was one of the first to catch my attention.  For many years, there was a nice field right next to my family’s home and property, and the Cabbages and Sulphurs were always those that I often observed flying along the high grass, seeking flowers for nectar-feeding.  It was the Cabbages and Sulphurs that eventually enticed me into following, chasing, catching, collecting, mounting, displaying, and presenting Lepidoptera.  To observers, they seem to be more often in flight than grounded. 

Still today, the Cabbage Butterflies are those to which I take quick notice since they are nearly all white, flying against a mostly green natural backdrop.  One must admit that it is difficult not to notice a Cabbage Butterfly.  Certainly, they are nothing special; they are very plain butterflies and are mostly all white in color.  They do not have colorful patterns or designs.  They do not have flashy, iridescent colors that reflect the sunlight.  And, while their flight is of what I would consider average speed for a butterfly, they are not fast, nor slow-fliers.  The only thing that really makes these butterflies stand out at all is that they are white.

Cabbage White Butterfly on Buddleja - Butterfly Bush, Snellville, Georgia, July 15, 2013

Cabbage White Butterfly on Buddleja – Butterfly Bush, Snellville, Georgia, July 15, 2013

Because Cabbage Whites are so common in the United States, it is easy to take them for granted, particularly even as a Lepidopterist or other entomologist.  Cabbage Butterflies are widely considered pest to many garden plants, including cabbage plants.  Yet, even with the many chemicals and pesticides that farmers and others place on their crops, these butterflies have found a way to survive. 

And, this brings to mind how – even though they are common and even though they may be taken for granted – they have a wonderful, plain beauty.  Their simple color and plain appearance can be a reminder for us of purity and simply beauty, something that the more grand and colorful butterflies lack.  Therefore, this must also remind us that there is a reason for everything and a place for everything in the world, no matter how fancy or how plain.  There is beauty in everything, including the common, white Cabbage Butterfly.

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