Butterflies, Pacific Northwest
The cabbage white butterfly can be seen all over the Pacific Northwest, flirting around your yard early in the spring, it brings life to the land.
It was introduced in North America in the 1860s from Europe and has become a favorite butterfly among children. You must have seen how they chase them all day long, laughing away. You must remember doing this yourself when you were a child.
The cabbage white butterfly overwinters as a pupa and emerges in early spring, it is one of the first butterflies of the season. When I see them, I know winter is truly over. They are a harbinger of spring just as much as the singing robin is.
They have a type of mating dance called a spiral dance, this dance is used when a female has no interest in a male. She will fly in a spiral up into the air and the male will follow until he tires and loses interest in the pursuit and flies back to the ground. The female then heads on her way, looking for the right mate. These butterflies are quite beautiful and are fascinating to watch.
Cabbage whites are very strong flyers, and though they rarely range farther than 5 km or so, it is estimated that they can fly over 200 km over their lifespan.
The small cabbage white caterpillars are a very light pale green, which affords them very good camouflage. Unlike their bigger cousin the large cabbage white, Small cabbage white caterpillars are tasty to predators, so they keep to the undersides of the leaves in order to avoid being spotted. These caterpillars eat food crops, and they can be a problem in the home garden.