Recently, South Africa has been abuzz with talks of the beautiful sight of thousands of white butterflies fluttering through the country’s streets. The fascinating migrating insects passed through Gauteng, Free State, the Northern Cape and some butterflies have even been spotted in Mozambique and Namibia.

These butterflies are known as the Brown-Veined White Butterfly and their annual migration takes place during mid-summer each year, which takes place at the end of January. These butterflies are usually spotted in South Africa’s north, central interior and north-eastern parts. To the untrained eye, they seem to appear in a flurry, but in reality, their numbers differ each year. This is dependent on factors such as drought, rain and temperature.

They are also usually followed by groups of predators who feed on them, and these are usually insect-eating birds or dragonflies. The Brown-veined White is also called Pioneer White or African Caper White, and is of the Family Pieridae. With a wingspan of 45 millimetres, it is known as South Africa’s most common butterfly.

The butterflies are endemic to the Karoo and Kalahari. These populations owe their strength to the main food plant of the caterpillars, the Shepherd’s Tree. The core populations are maintained by the females laying eggs on the Shepherd’s trees before they move off to migrate. The mass of white butterflies plays an important role in pollination, but this is still poorly understood.

After crossing the Northern Cape, parts of the Free State and North West Province on their journey northeast, they fly to Gauteng as well as parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

 

 

 

 

 

Picture: Twitter

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.