Large white butterfly on a white flower (c) Jan Riley

Cabbage white

Cabbage whites are common butterflies of gardens and other flowery places, where they cause no harm at all. Their dirty-green-coloured caterpillars, on the other hand, can wreak havoc in vegetable gardens and on farms, where they quickly reduce cabbages and other brassica plants to mere stalks. The caterpillars are full of distasteful chemicals, so are not eaten by birds, however, one parasitic wasp species loves them: the wasp lays its eggs inside the caterpillar where they are eaten by the grubs. British populations are bolstered by migrants from the continent.

How to identify common garden butterflies.

Scientific name: Pieris brassicae

Rank: Species

Common names:

  • Cabbage butterfly,
  • Large cabbage white,
  • Large white

Watch video clips from past programmes (1 clip)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.

Distribution

The Cabbage white can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Europe, Himalayas, Indian subcontinent, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Cabbage white distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.

  • Timelapse photography: speeding up life Timelapse photography: speeding up life

    Some of the most memorable sequences in natural history result from timelapse photography, an astonishing filming technique that opens our eyes to a whole new world.

  • Garden wildlife Garden wildlife

    From badgers to butterflies and frogs to foxes, garden wildlife is both varied and surprising.

Elsewhere on the BBC