My cat, Finn, and I have a rather nice pest control system in my house. He spots the unwelcome insects and alerts me to their presence by jumping about frantically and crying out, "eh eh eh oow!" I then locate them, usually on the wall, and whack them with my music of the Caribbean textbook. Finn waits close by until the insect falls the floor; He then inhales it like a vacuum, licks his lips, and wags his tail as I say, "good kitty!"
It was during a procedure of this nature that Finn and I encountered the Mustard White, a type of moth that lives in various regions of the eastern United States, as well as, north into Canada.
The moth, who is known as Pieris oleracea in the scientific community, was a little over an inch in diameter and solid white in color. The website, Butterflies and Moths of North America, explains that, "[The] summer form is pure white above and below. [The] spring form has [a] black-tipped upper fore-wing. [The] underside of [the] hind-wing and apex of [the] forewing have veins edged with yellow-green or gray-green."
I undoubtedly saw the summer form of the moth, which makes sense since I saw it in late August. The picture above, however, is of the spring form of the creature.
The aforementioned website also explains that the male moths seek out females to reproduce with. Then, the females lay their eggs on the undersides of plants in the Mustard family (hence their name). The eggs hatch into caterpillars which eat the leaves of the Mustard plant. After hiding in a Crysalis and hibernating for some time, they reemerge as Mustard White moths. The adult moths drink the nectar from Mustard plants and have an average wing span of about one to just over two inches. They generally live in wooded areas, fields, or along streams.
While I was researching the Mustard White, I found that some resources were referring to it as a moth, while others called it a butterfly. I have always felt that butterflies are angelic, graceful creatures, and moths are butterflies that have chosen the dark side and become evil, disgusting creatures. It seems, however, that the difference between the two is not as cut and dry as I suspected.
The website insects.about.com, explains that, "There is no real taxonomic difference between butterflies and moths. Both are classified in the order Lepidoptera. This order contains over 100 families of insects worldwide, some of which are moths and some of which are butterflies. However, there are some differences in physical and behavioral characteristics that are easy to learn and recognize." Please see this website for a detailed list of these differences.
Lastly is a piece of information that I was unable to confirm with any reliable internet source, but I believe it to be true based on my own experience; Mustard Whites are a favorite evening snack of house cats.