Cabbage Moth

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Not to be confused with Cabbage looper.
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 across the Palearctic to Japan.

Mamestra brassicae.jpg

This species varies 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 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.

Technical Description and variation[edit]

See glossary for terms used

The wingspan is 34–50 mm. Forewing grey-brown varied with fuscous: lines pale, dark-edged; orbicular stigma rounded, reniform large, white-spotted, or filled in with white; hindwing brownish, with a paler mark near end of vein 2.The insect varies in opposite directions; -ab. albidilinea Haw is a blackish form with the reniform stigma and submarginal line white, occurring occasionally in Europe as well as in Britain; — scotochroma Rob., a local German form, is melanic, with both wings blackish, much like albidilinea, but without the white submarginal line; - unicolor Tutt has all the markings dark and light, more or less lost in the fuscous suffusion, the reniform edged only with whitish ; on the other hand andalusica Stgr. from Spain is pale grey-brown with a faint ochreous flush, darker grey in female, with all markings obscured except the 3 stigmata which are strikingly pale, with partial blackish outline, especially on their lower edge, the claviform sometimes grey; — decolorata Stgr. from Issykkul and other localities in Central Asia is pale greyish brown, with the stigmata as in andalusica, but with the markings, especially the submarginal ones, not obsolete; — canescens Moore from Yarkand is, judging from the figure, very close to, if not identical with, decolorata which it antedates by 10 years. [3]

Larva varying in ground colour from green to brown and blackish, with broad pale spiracular line; a dorsal hump on segment 11: with dorsal and lateral stripes;[4] dark dorsal marks,[5] various white dorsal and lateral spots;[5][6] dark 'tyre tread' marks;[7] brown 'eye' marks,[4] and a dark back central back stripe.;[8] grey dorsum, pale lateral stripe and tan versum.;[9] red-brown earth colour;[4] grey-brown earth colour;[10] tan dorsum, white and then yellow stripe and pink ventrum.;[4] green, khaki, grey-brown or brown with dark spots;[1][2][10] green-grey dorsum, yellow stripe and light green ventrum;[11] grey green with a dark green dorsal stripe;[12] black dorsum, yellow lateral stripe and light yellow green versum[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.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Interesting (To Us) Photos From The Garden". Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  2. ^ a b "RXwildlife Sightings » Blog Archive » More Emergence". 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  3. ^ Seitz, A. Ed., 1914 Die Großschmetterlinge der Erde, Verlag Alfred Kernen, Stuttgart Band 3: Abt. 1, Die Großschmetterlinge des palaearktischen Faunengebietes, Die palaearktischen eulenartigen Nachtfalter, 1914
  4. ^ a b c d "Noctuidae - Noctuinae - Apameini, Dypterygiini, Hadenini, Leucaniini". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  5. ^ a b "INSECTES13-4'-1". 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  6. ^ "The Moths and Butterflies of Huntingdonshire". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  7. ^ "Cabbage Moth - Mamestra brassicae". NatureSpot. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  8. ^ a b "Europäische Schmetterlinge und ihre Ökologie: Mamestra brassicae". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b "Cabbage Moth - Caterpillar". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  11. ^ "Mamestra brassicae larva cabbage moth Koppert Biological Systems 6050 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. 2008-04-14. Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  12. ^ "The Moths and Butterflies of Huntingdonshire". Retrieved 2014-08-11. 
  13. ^ "Robinson, G. S., P. R. Ackery, I. J. Kitching, G. W. Beccaloni & L. M. Hernández, 2010. HOSTS - A Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants. Natural History Museum, London.". 
  • 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]