Alice Springs Fauna •

Alice Springs ButterfliesBlue Moon Butterfly Caper White Butterfly, Egg and Instar Glasswing (Acraea andromacha) Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia) Meadow Argus (Junonia villida calybe) Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore) Two-spotted Line-blue Butterfly (Nacaduba biocellata)

One of the butterflies often seen in Alice Springs is the Caper White Butterfly (Belenois java), in particular the sub-species Belenois java teutonia. Whilst the butterfly will be seen on a number of flowering plants, there is one particular plant species that they feed and lay their eggs on, commonly known as the caper plant or caper bush.

The caper bush, also known locally as the Wild Passionfruit (Capparis spinosa var. nummularia) has striking pale cream flowers, producing a fruit that is edible, but you will need to fight the ants for it. The caper bush has small spines and rounded oval green leaves with pointed ends.

The Caper White Butterfly goes through four stages in its life cycle. Starting from the ovum or egg, larva or caterpillar, pupa or chrysalis, and then finally emerging from the chrysalis as the adult butterfly.

If you see the Caper White Butterfly fluttering around a particular shrub and landing on the plant, take a closer look. You may be lucky to see it laying eggs. From a pale translucent cream-white, as the eggs mature they become darker yellow.

The eggs soon hatch and the caterpillar goes through five instar stages.

Egg and instar of the Belenois java teutonia, Alice Springs NT
Egg and instar of the Belenois java teutonia, Alice Springs NT

An instar is a larval development stage ie the stage following larval skin moult.

In the final part of this instar life cycle, the larva having finished its growth development, enters the pre-pupal larval stage, where it forms into the pupa within the final larval skin. It is from this final moult that the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, leaving the pupa behind.

So next time your are in Alice Springs, take a closer look at the caper bush to see if you can see the developing caterpillars and the chrysalis from which the Caper White Butterfly emerges.

Of course the final life cycle of the Caper White Butterfly is death, with the male having mated with a female or the female having laid its final batch of eggs.

Battered remains of the Caper White Butterfly
Battered remains of the Caper White Butterfly, Alice Springs NT

More info can be found in our Butterflies > Caper White Butterfly (Belenois java). Also check out our blog A hard life…


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Belenois
  • Species: Belenois java
  • Subspecies: B. j. teutonia

Alice Springs ButterfliesBlue Moon Butterfly Caper White Butterfly, Egg and Instar Glasswing (Acraea andromacha) Lesser Wanderer (Danaus petilia) Meadow Argus (Junonia villida calybe) Tawny Coster (Acraea terpsicore) Two-spotted Line-blue Butterfly (Nacaduba biocellata)

Alice Springs Butterflies & Moths (Lepidopterans)Butterflies Moths

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