Monday, September 26, 2011

cabbage white ~ 09/26/11 ~ at home

Pieris rapae

It doesn't look very white, does it? Despite the yellow on the underside of the hindwings, it does appear very white in flight. I mainly wanted to show that this butterfly successfully emerged mid-morning. For a while there the chrysalis was so dark for several days that I was beginning to think it had died. The clear empty pupal casing can be seen still attached to the leaf. I had provided the stick so it could have something to climb onto while it pumped up its wings. I initially believed it to be a female, because I could barely make out two black spots from what I thought was showing through the hindwing from its forewing. Generally on cabbage butterflies, viewing the forewings from the top side and not counting the black wing tips, females have two spots and males have one spot on each forewing. However, I noticed Butterflies of America (linked in the common name above) has examples of spread specimens showing varying number of spots depending on whether it's the dorsal or ventral view of all the wings. I guess I've never really looked that closely before. I had hoped to get a picture of my cabbage white outside of the container and with its wings spread open, but by the afternoon it flew away before I could even turn on the camera. Jeffrey Glassberg notes, "Although many people disparage this species, because it is so common and not native, close observation reveals it to be one of the most graceful inhabitants of the air." I agree. Art Shapiro provides a nice summary of this common butterfly.