White Peacock Butterfly

The white peacock butterfly, Anartia jatrophae, is found through much of the southeastern U.S., Central and South America, and the Carribbean. They like warm, open, weedy areas near water. Males display a unique territorial behavior, staking out a territory which may be 15m or so in diameter, and defending it aggressively from other males and other insects in general.

Eggs are laid on water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri) plants, and the caterpillars require that plant as a food source. Adults eat many plants, including shepherd’s needle (Bidens pilosa), white hyssop, wild petunias, casearia and others.

The two front legs are nonfunctional, giving the appearance of only four legs; this is characteristic of all members of the family Nymphalidae. If you look closely, you can also see a little “horn” on the end of its “nose”!

This lovely butterfly was hanging upside down from a leaf, and let me get right up close with the bug rig. Butterflies never let me get this close, so I suspect I found this one just after it emerged from its cocoon, before its wings had fully readied for flight.

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