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 caterpillare 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. They can sometimes appear in such numbers that the caterpillar will strip the plant of all the edible leaves, although the plant appears to recover.
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 adult butterfly are mainly white with black margins to their upper wings, with yellow-orange, black and white colours to the underwings. The caterpillares are a dark brown to olive green, with white and yellow dots.
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 can vary considerably from mainly dark to mainly white. The following battered wings images of a Caper White Butterfly with yellow, white and largely black coloration.
- Scientific classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Pieridae
- Genus: Belenois
- Species: B. java
- Binomial name: Belenois java
- 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
- Caper White Butterfly, Belenois java, Australian Museum, https://australian.museum/learn/animals/insects/caper-white-butterfly/
- Caper white – Belenois java teutonia, Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc, https://butterflyconservationsa.net.au/butterfly/caper-white
- A touch of light: caper white butterflies, by Mike Gillam, 18 May 2020, Alice Springs News, https://alicespringsnews.com.au/2020/05/18/a-touch-of-light-caper-white-butterflies/
- Belenois java, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belenois_java (last visited May 23, 2021).