Roots 'n' Shoots: Little White Butterflies

Why is RnS Moving to

Google had brought out an algorithm update in May 2017. With previous updates like Panda or Penguin, Mr G had penalized blogs or websites with low quality content and those more focused on aggressive adverts (including multiple ads or pop-up ads in articles). However, many blogs/websites that weren't shady got penalized beyond recovery too and a lot of people lost their income. The May 2017 update has had wide-scale effect on blogs and websites, but without any explanation from Mr G as to why or what it does. RnS has been hit by it too and hard. RnS organic search stats (i.e. users from Google) have dropped by 75% since. Even though RnS is not a source of income, I tried to figure out why RnS is being culled. It seems that it doesn't really have anything to do with RnS per se, but likely because RnS is FREE and not paying for page ranking (via AdWords or Ad Ranking). Now it is likely being aggressively shoved to lower page rankings to accommodate the paid ads.

I cannot rely on Mr G anymore to get RnS' content where it is needed. So I am busy moving RnS to Wordpress where you can find me as Whisker Flowers @

I am also imposing 301 redirects from already moved posts and pages!

- The Shroom - (AKA Whisker Flowers)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Little White Butterflies

Where do the white butterflies come from? Where do the white butterflies go?

Brown Veined White Butterfly on pompoms
Belenois aurota
Every year in South Africa, during December-January, little white butterflies take to the air in their thousands, all flying in the same direction. They visit gardens and flowers along the way. Even though it is a yearly occurrence, many people don’t know why it happens.

Brown Veined White Butterfly on statice
Belenois aurota

This is the migratory flight of the Brown Veined White Butterfly, Belenois aurota (AKA Pioneer white, African Caper White and in Afrikaans: Grasveldwitjie). They belong to the Pieridae (the ‘Whites’) family of butterflies and migrate north-east over the interior of South Africa.

Brown Veined White Butterfly 
Belenois aurota

During good rainy seasons, the butterflies’ population is bolstered by the abundance of leaves for caterpillars on host plants (Capparaceae: specific genera include; Boscia, Shepard’s trees; Maerua, endemic trees of Mozambique and Capparis, Caper shrubs). These caterpillars subsequently metamorphose into butterflies.

Brown Veined White Butterfly 
Belenois aurota

Caper Bush
Capparis spinosa
Botanical Flora von Deutschland Osterreich un der Schweiz
Kurt Stober's Online Library
The adults mate and lay eggs on the host species (they breed before they fly). Afterwards they begin their migration. They fly and continue to fly until they succumb to complete exhaustion.  If they get sufficient food along the way, making pit stops in gardens, they can fly as far out to the Mozambique Channel and perish in the Indian Ocean.

Brown Veined White Butterfly 
Belenois aurota

Migratory Route

After a few years of migrating eastwards they will turn around and migrate back again. So the cycle continues and white butterflies take to the sky. I will update this post as soon as the first of the whites appear this year.

Brown Veined White Butterfly 
Belenois aurota
This is about the only time we really get any butterflies in the garden. There was another little visitor, the Yellow Pansy, Junonia hierta.
Yellow Pansy
Junonia hierta

Related Posts
If you want to provide flowers (food) for the travelers' annual journey or want to attract more butterflies and bees to your garden then see my Insectary post for more information.

Butterfly & Bee friendly plants
Excellent refueling stations for wary travelers
See my Insectary post for additional plant options & info

- Update 08 Jan 2014 - 

The Butterflies are here! The white butterflies have started migrating through Gauteng. The first drips and drabs have been fluttering about today... more still to come!

- Update 11 Jan 2014 - 

The masses have made their way to Roodepoort. The chickens try their best to catch some who flutter to close to the ground, but to no avail - very amusing to watch them race after the little whites.

- Update 12 Jan 2014 - 

Watch Out Pretoria! The white could of fluttering wings are upon you!

- Update 14 Jan 2014 -

Sadly, the butterfly run has come to an end. Updates again next season!


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