Cabbage Moth

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Cabbage Moth
Mamestra brassicae01.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Noctuidae
Genus: Mamestra
Species: M. brassicae
Binomial name
Mamestra brassicae
(Linnaeus, 1758)

Note: the Small White species of butterfly is commonly called a "cabbage moth" in North America.

The Cabbage Moth (Mamestra brassicae) is a common Palearctic moth of the family Noctuidae. It is found in Europe, Russia and as far east as Japan.

Mamestra brassicae.jpg

This species varies considerably in size, with a wingspan of 34–50 mm. The forewings are brown and mottled with a prominent white-edged stigma and a broken white sub terminal line.[1][2] The hind wings are grey, darker towards the termen. The prominent spur on the tibia of the foreleg is a diagnostic feature, though is best viewed with a magnifying lens. This moth has a rather complex life history: two or three broods are produced each year and adults can be seen at any time from May to October, occasionally at other times [1]. It flies at night and is attracted to light, sugar and nectar-rich flowers.

The larva is green, khaki, grey-brown or brown with dark spots.[1][2][3] The topside is darker than the bottom side and a yellow or light brown stripe goes round the middle portion by the spots.[1][2] They grow to about an inch long before pupating, As the common and scientific names suggest, it can be a pest of cultivated brassicas and sweet peas, but it feeds on a wide range of other plants (see list below).[2] Due to its complex life history, this species overwinters either as a larva or a brown pointed oval pupa.[4]

known colors, closures and patterns include-

  • Many have back and side stripes;[5] dark back marks,[6] variose white back and side spots;[6][7] dark 'tyer tread marks' type patches;[4] big, shiny, brownish eyes,[5] and a dark back central back stripe.[8]
  • Grey above, pick side stripe and tan bottom.[9]
  • Like a peace red-brown earth[5]
  • Like a peace grey-brown earth [3]
  • Tan above, white and then yellow stripw and pink underside.[5]
  • Green, khaki, grey-brown or brown with dark spots [1][2][3]
  • Green-grey above, yellow stripe and light green below [10]
  • Grey green with a dark green back stripe [11]
  • Black above, yellow side stripe and light yellow green below [8]*
  1. ^ The flight season refers to the one in the British Isles. This may vary in other parts of the range.

Recorded food plants[edit]

Beet greens with holes eaten by cabbage moth larvae.
Curly kale with a caterpillar on it.

See Robinson, G. S. et al.[12]


  • Chinery, Michael Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe 1986 (Reprinted 1991)
  • Skinner, Bernard Colour Identification Guide to Moths of the British Isles 1984

External links[edit]