What’s this caper?

Spend enough time in the bush and you’re bound to witness some interesting happenings. Such was the case last evening out on the Moolort Plains. I was chasing raptors, without luck, when I noticed a procession of butterflies moving north-west along the roadside. They were  Caper Whites Belenois java teutonica, a species renowned for making massed migrations in search of host plants, generally those in the genus Capparis, such as the Native Orange.


Caper White Butterflies on Wallaby-grass, Moolort Plains, 18th November 2015.

As I watched on, dozens of the butterflies passed every few minutes, sticking close to the roadside vegetation – remnant Yellow Box and Buloke. I followed them and was intrigued to discover that they had a special attraction to the Tree Violets in the understorey of the canopy trees – masses of Caper Whites were hanging in the shade from the foliage. While I’ve seen this butterfly regularly over the years, this is the first time I can recall observing such an association with Tree Violet.


Caper White on Tree Violet.





5 responses to “What’s this caper?

  1. I wonder if it was just the shade and protection from birds the butterflies were after? The Tree Violet is forming seed now, so no nectar there….

    • Hi Frankie – I’m puzzling about it too … it looked like the Tree Violet was offering a safe, temporary sanctuary for the butterflies on their travels.
      Cheers, geoff

  2. Thank you Geoff, you posts brighten my day and lift my spirit.

  3. Geoff, we’ve had caper Whites chasing Cabbage Whites off our Lavender for over a week at 12 Clarke Lane, carlo ps sometimes it looked like they wanted to mate!

  4. Hi Carlo – that’s very interesting – it seems we have a real influx of them at the moment.
    All the best, geoff

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