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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

990505n – 19505   Mamestra brassicae Linnaeus, 1758
             Cabbage Moth
Distribution Data for Mamestra brassicae
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Distribution: Europe, Asia, and Russia; not found in North America north of Mexico.
and Size:
Typically bivoltine, may be univoltine in colder climates. Adults present May-June and late July-September. Larvae present from June to August.
adult wingspan ranges 35-50mm
Larva and
Host Plants:
Recorded hosts include representatives of the Alliaceae (onion), Brassicaceae (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, rapeseed, canola, radish, and turnips), Compositae (sunflower and lettuce), Cucurbitaceae (squash and pumpkin), Solanaceae (tomato, tobacco, and potato), Rosaceae (apple), Polygonaceae (rhubarb), Fabaceae (pea), and Amaranthaceae (beets and spinach).
Dorsal half darkly pigmented, venter is pale yellow. Retinaculum present on mandible.
Field Marks:
Eyes hairy. Forelegs with brown, apically pointed tibial spur with slight curve. Forewings mottled with grey-brown, or appearing blackish-brown. Variable reddish-brown scaling at base of wing. White reniform spot near center of each forewing. White line extending from apex of wing to dorsum.
Similar Species:
  • Larvae indistinguishable from several other noctuid species as well as Pieris rapae and P. brassicae (the small white and large white butterfly), particularly in early instars. M. brassicae adults can be distinguished from other similar noctuids, specifically Apamea spp., based on the presence of the tibial spur on the foreleg and the hairy eyes.
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select View by Region on the related species page.)
  • (1) Gilligan, T.M., and Passoa. 2014. LepIntercept- An identification resource for intercepted Lepidoptera larvae. USDA-APHIS-PPQ Identification Technology Program (ITP). Fort Collins, CO. website
  • (2) CAPS Soybean pest descriptions website
  • (3) Species Page at BOLD Barcoding Project - website.
Photographs are needed for this species.

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