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Farfalla cavolaia

The stages of the cabbage butterfly: from larva to chrysalis

From the first days of spring, the cabbage butterfly lays approximately two hundred eggs on the lower portion of the leaves of the chosen plant. These eggs, yellow in color and very small, hatch in a very short time and caterpillars originate from them which initially live grouped. After a few days the larvae begin to spread on the plant with such a speed as to leave intact only the most robust veins of the leaves. Once the apex of development has been reached, the caterpillar leaves the plant and goes in search of a wall or a tree trunk. It is at this point that, supported by a very thin filament of drool, the caterpillar turns into a chrysalis: the initial tissues are demolished and give way to those of the butterfly.

The stages of the cabbage butterfly: the adult specimen


The Cavolaia, once it reaches the adult stage, changes from a green caterpillar into a beautiful white-winged butterfly. Its body structure is characterized by the absence of vertebrae and is divided into three distinct segments: head, thorax and abdomen. The body of the butterfly is defended by a thin outer skin that acts as an exoskeleton and holds together the parts that make up the moth’s structure. Its legs are articulated and it has two pairs of white wings with dark veins: the front ones are outlined in black and, in the female, they have two black spots; the posterior ones, on the other hand, are smaller and have a dark marginal spot. The head is small, equipped with antennae, 2 compound eyes and a very long trunk which allows the butterfly to collect pollen.


The Cavolaia is an insect that, although it comes from the Palearctic Region, is present throughout Italy and is a very common species. Some specimens of Cavolaia have also been introduced in North America and Australia and it is one of the most widespread butterflies which is generally found up to altitudes of 2300 meters. In Central Europe, the Cavolaia gives rise to 2-3 generations a year (depending on the climate) and is a typically gregarious animal: at times it occurs in groups so high as to cause irreparable damage to crops. Fortunately, however, these butterflies are themselves attacked and killed by a very high number of parasites and infectious diseases caused by microbes or fungi. In addition, often the cabbage butterfly it gathers in compact flocks and faces real migrations.

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