Pine: Pine butterfly

categories: Conifers Ornamentals Pine Pine Insects

revision date: 2023-04-12 12:00

On a black background a white butterfly with brown or black markings on wings.
Pine butterfly
Photo by: Unknown


The larva of the pine butterfly is a dark green caterpillar with white stripes on the sides and a black head. The caterpillars feed on the needles, hatching out when new needles begin to appear. Young larvae feed in clusters on the older needles, while older larvae feed singly. They cause relatively little damage except in years of severe outbreaks. Adult pine butterflies are white with black markings and closely resemble the cabbage butterfly. The preferred host tree is ponderosa pine.

Management Options

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful plant problem management.

Non-chemical Management

Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

  • Remove and destroy caterpillars by hand to control minor infestations.
  • Prune and destroy branches with large clusters of feeding larvae, when practical.

Chemical Management

IMPORTANT: Visit Home and Garden Fact Sheets for more information on using pesticides.

  • Apply when caterpillars are present.
  • Homeowners should not make foliar applications to trees over 10 ft tall.
  • Consult a commercial pesticide applicator for treatment of trees and shrubs over 10 ft. tall.


Approved Pesticides

Listed below are examples of pesticides that are legal in Washington. Always read and follow all label directions.