White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae)
The White Peacock Butterfly is a species of mostly-white butterfly and is seen in parts of both the Americas. These tropical arthropods display a territorial behavior especially during the mating season, as the males get belligerently involved in protecting their host plant territories from other males and insects, where the females would lay their eggs.
Description and Identification
The mature larvae are black and spiny and have fine; white freckles all over the body. The spines are to discourage predators, while the spotted dark coloration is an adaptation technique for camouflage, as also to release toxic chemicals. The caterpillar can grow up to 4.2 cm in length, while the stage lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.
The chrysalis is pale green with small black dots all over. They take around 7 to 14 days to transform into a butterfly.
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the upper side shows a white base having light beige to brown marks with two rows of light crescents by the margins of the wings. The middle parts of the wings also have a faint cyan pigment. When the wings are closed, the underside shows a rather dull to grayish coloration with wavy orange patterns and two black spots close to the border of the hind wings. The forewings have one circular black spot each, while the two hind wings have two. During the dry months of winter, they look larger and paler; during the humid summer months, they appear smaller and more colorful. They are sexually dimorphic with females being bigger by size and are grayer on the underside.
Average wingspan: 2 – 2¾ inches (5.1 – 7 cm)
Flight pattern: Fast, erratic fly
Life Cycle: 6 to 20 days
Mature adults lay eggs singly on the underside of the leaves of the host plants. The eggs are pale yellow and take 4 to 14 days to hatch.
Quick Facts & Information
|Distribution/Range||From the southern parts of the United States to Argentina, and throughout the West Indies|
|Habitat||Open, humid areas including banks of streams and ponds, by the weedy fields, shallow ditches, gardens, and parks|
|Lifespan of adults||1 to 4 months|
|Territory size||Host-plant territories are typically 15 meters in diameter|
|Host plants||Caterpillars primarily feed on water hyssop (bacopa), ruellia, and lippie;
Adults collect nectar mostly from lantana, bidens, tournefortia, Spanish needle, shepherd’s needle, frogfruit, etc.
|Adult diet||Pollen, petals, flower nectar|
Did You Know?
- The peacock butterfly is often seen basking in the sun on the ground with its wings wide open.
- This species is one of the first butterflies that are seen during the onset of spring.
- The Peacock Butterfly gets its name from its characteristic large ‘eye spot’ on each of its four wings, which reminds of peacock feathers.