The Caper White (Anaphaeis java teutonia) is one of Australia’s commonest butterflies. The larvae feed on the foliage of the Wild Orange (Capparis mitchellii) a plant that occurs in dry inland areas of all mainland states. After females lay their eggs, the insects become restless and affected by “flying hysteria”. Huge numbers take wing and fly east towards the coast. These migrations take place in November and December. In some years there are vast swarms of these butterflies. I remember a huge swarm in the Sydney region in the 1950’s. In December 1928 the SS Monterey encountered millions of Caper Whites at sea between Sydney and Auckland.
At Yallaroo, between November and December many Caper Whites visit on their eastward migration. They appear to feed on everlasting daisies and some flowering Myrtaceae including Backeas and Kunzeas.
We gleaned the information, for this item from a number of sources but principally from Australian Insects by Keith McKeown (published in 1944 by the Royal Zoological Society). An interesting book which combines scientific information with practical observations about many Australian insects.
The image shows a Caper White sampling the nectar from a Callistemon Taree Pink flower spike at Yallaroo in spring 2005.