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I Brake And Swerve For Butterflies
updated: Aug 05, 2014, 9:45 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

Inspired by the oriole story. I have noticed an unusual number of white butterflies (I assume Cabbage Whites) as I drive the streets and highways in Santa Ynez. Everywhere and hard to avoid. I am surprised because I think the drought would impact whatever the caterpillars feed on. Warning: I brake and swerve for butterflies.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 542311 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 10:00 AM

I believe the "white butterflies" may actually be cabbage moths. If so, cabbage moths eat mustard which grows wild just about everywhere in this area and does not seem to be affected much by drought.

 

 COMMENT 542334 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 11:25 AM

cabbage whites as larvae eat anything in the Brassicaceae family, which is the second largest flowering plant family. Even in the drought, these lepidoptera will be seen. You're seeing them in their adult phase too, I'm not sure what they're laying eggs on, since there aren't too many green brassicas around right now, but I'm sure they're doing fine. I work in the SYV and see tons of them right now too- especially around flowering ornamental bushes like the lavender that i see in front of so many wineries and businesses. :)

 

 COMMENT 542376P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 01:38 PM

I believe the adults drink the nectar from the lavender blooms. The larva feed on nasturtium plants besides cabbages et al.

 

 YIN YANG agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 02:58 PM

thanks edhat & posters. I always wondered and never bothered to look up what those "white butterflys" were. I like brassicas too.

 

 COMMENT 542426P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-05 04:52 PM

311: Cabbage whites are butterflies, not moths. Mustard is a host plant, you're right about that. The caterpillars eat cabbage (hence the name),broccoli leaves, cauliflower leaves. They love those ornamental kales/cabbages, too.

The Cabbage white butterflies fly from late February to mid-November. I am seeing them, Monarch butterflies and some Cloudless sulphurs in my front yard now. Also Skippers and Blues. Plant Centranthus ruber ("Jupiter's Beard"), if you want to feed the butterflies. Self-sowing, easy-care flowers that tolerate a lot of neglect. (Whenever you see "self-sowing" be aware that this generally means the plants will reseed themselves almost to the extent of being a weed.)

Buy organic. Don't purchase flowering plants at Big-Box stores. Many such plants contain pesticides and are bad for flying, nectar-feeding critters.

 

 FANGIRL agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 11:47 AM

As it is always dry in California in the summer and fall months, I think the drought is probably impacting the human populations more than the animal/insect one.

 

 COMMENT 542633 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-08-06 02:42 PM

There is a competition it Davis, CA to find and catch the first cabbage white of the year. It's a competition hosted by a Lepidoptera specialist, an Entomology professor who offers to buy a pitcher of beer for anyone who can find one (in the wild, not bred in captivity) before him! Only once has anyone beat him- one of his own graduate students.

 

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