Friday, August 8, 2014

“You can only chase a butterfly for so long.”
-Jane Yolen

Paul Hengstebeck of Laguna Beach, California recently finished producing his video of a Monarch caterpillar metamorphosing into a chrysalis and ultimately into an adult butterfly. You may remember his initial video we saw a few weeks ago.

Paul also opened a Google+ page showcasing some of the lovely photos he's taken of Monarchs.

The Cabbage White Butterfly

First landing in Canada, the Cabbage White butterfly is an European introduction that hitchhiked across the Atlantic back in the last half of the 1800's in shipments of cabbages and other cruciferous (also known as brassicas) vegetables. Without any natural enemies, it soon spread out across most of North America. Other crucifers include kale, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard, horseradish, bok choy... the list goes on and on...

Very common, it is one of the first butterflies to be spotted early in the season. Will overwinter in Southern California, and can be seen almost every day of the year when the sun is shining.

Cabbage White, Pieris rapae. Male, left; female, right.

Cabbage White caterpillar. Somewhat variable in color and markings; mainly green.

The larvae if left unchecked, will riddle members of the cabbage family with holes and frass, making for unmarketable produce and less than desirable veggie garden table fare. For those wishing to enlist more environmentally friendly alternatives to dispatch these critters from your plants, hand picking is effective, although sometimes cats will bore deep inside cabbage heads, making it almost impossible to extricate them. A very effective IPM strategy is the use of  Bt, but beware, fellow butterfly aficionados; it will affect other caterpillars in surrounding areas if accidentally introduced.

I've found them eating the buds of zonal geraniums, besides cabbages.They are also known to attack nasturtiums.

Cabbage White chrysalis. Variable in color from green to brown.

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