Caper White ButterflyCaper White Butterfly & Caper Bush Caper White Caterpillar and Instar Eggs of the Caper White Butterfly Caper White Butterfly Metamorphosis

The Caper White Butterfly (Belenois java) can be found in Australia, Indonesia, and Melanesia. The sub-species in Australia is the Caper White Butterfly (Belenois java teutonia).

Seen throughout Australia, the caterpillar of the B. j. teutonia butterfly are usually associated with and feeding off caper plants. The butterfly however have been seen to feed off the nectar of other flowering plants including Callistemon (bottlebrushes).

The caterpillar of the Caper White Butterfly eat only plants that are in the caper family (Capparis spp). In Central Australia, you can often see them on the Wild Passionfruit, such as Capparis spinosa var. nummularia. and the Capparis mitchellii (Australian Native Orange). They can sometimes appear in such numbers that the caterpillar will strip the plant of all the edible leaves and bark, although the plant appears to recover.

There may be some exception in host plants – (Belenois java teutonia have been seen feeding on Apophyllum anomalum)6, it is however important that the eggs are laid on the correct larval host plants for the caterpillar to develop into the butterfly.

At this stage of the life cycle, the caterpillars are quite vulnerable to predators such as wasps, flies and birds. Native birds can also be seen to pick the butterfly off as they emerge from the chrysalis.

The Caper White Butterflies are migratory, and can form large migrations in spring and summer. During these times sometimes referred to as ‘butterfly snow’. They usually migrate inland, west of the Great Dividing Range, in search of food plant on which to lay their eggs. The westerly winds can sometimes blow them off course, along the coastline.

Overall the adult butterfly are mainly white with black margins to their upper wings, with yellow-orange, black and white colours to the underwings. The caterpillars are a dark brown to olive green, with white and yellow dots.

In both the asult male and female Caper White, the fore and hind wings are white, that is edged with a wide-ish black band, punctuated with white variably shaped spots. In males the band can be quite narrow, whilst in the female it is usually considerably wider. In some females this band can occupy significant areas of the upper wing area.

Male butterflies of the species are known to wait as the female emerges from the chrysalis and mate with them straight away.

The markings of the Caper White Butterfly can vary considerably from mainly dark to mainly white. The following images of the battered wings of a Caper White Butterfly with yellow, white and largely black coloration.

In addition to our section on Caper White Butterfly & Caper Bush | Caterpillar & Instar | Eggs of the Caper White | Metamorphosis , check out our blog A hard life…

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Pieridae
  • Genus: Belenois
  • Species: B. java
  • Binomial name: Belenois java
  • Subspecies:
    • B. j. java (Indonesia)
    • B. j. savuana (Savu)
    • B. j. teutonia (Australia)
    • B. j. ina (Indonesia)
    • B. j. peristhene (Melanesia)
    • B. j. picata (Melanesia)
    • B. j. micronesia (Fiji)

Footnote & References

  1. Caper White, South Australian Butterflies & Moths,
  2. Caper White Butterfly, Belenois java, Australian Museum,
  3. Caper white – Belenois java teutonia, Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc,
  4. A touch of light: caper white butterflies, by Mike Gillam, 18 May 2020, Alice Springs News,
  5. Belenois java, Caper White, Coffs Harbour Butterfly House,
  6. Belenois java, (last visited May 23, 2021).

Caper White ButterflyCaper White Butterfly & Caper Bush Caper White Caterpillar and Instar Eggs of the Caper White Butterfly Caper White Butterfly Metamorphosis

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