White Peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae)

When a Peacock isn’t a Bird

Dateline: September 9, 2011*

Bidens Alba is a favorite nectar source for White Peacock Butterfly

The White Peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae) is one of the more prolific members of my garden crew at this time of year. I guess because of the winter freeze they were a little slow to return, but have comeback with amazing numbers now.

Earlier in the year they have a darker form

They are members of the Brushfooted Butterflies Family (Nymphalidae). Caterpillar hosts include Water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri), Turkey Tangle Fogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) (or FRogfruit depending on what area of the country you are from), Ruellia spp. and Lippia spp. In my yard I have the Bacopa and Fogfruit.

Bacopa, an emersed plant is one of several larval host sources

Favorite nectar sources are Fogfruit and Spanish Needles (Bidens alba) where sometimes as many as 10 can be found in one area drinking in the sweet elixir. Its range covers Central and South Florida, Texas, Mexico and South America but it can occasionally stray north as far as North Carolina and Kentucky.

Fogfruit aka Frogfruit is dual purpose plant providing nectar and as a larval host

One of my favorites, it provides much entertainment as pairs will flitter around close to the ground chasing one another. I’ve yet to see a caterpillar of this species. They seem to hide themselves well which may explain why there are so many of them. Their predators can’t find them and neither can I!

While the caterpillars might hide well, this adult gets done in by the food chain

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on September 9, 2011 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

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