White Peacock Butterfly: Quick Facts for Enthusiasts

The White Peacock Butterfly (Anartia jatrophae) is a fascinating creature worth getting to know. As a member of the Nymphalidae family and Nymphalinae subfamily, it exhibits distinct features and habits that set it apart from others within the class Insecta.

One of the first things you’ll notice about this beautiful insect is its striking appearance. The White Peacock sports a wingspan of 2 to 2.5 inches, with white wings adorned with light brown markings and a double row of light crescents at the margins. The scientific classification of Anartia jatrophae places it firmly within the insect kingdom, specifically in the order Lepidoptera, which encompasses moths and butterflies alike.

As you dive deeper into the world of the White Peacock Butterfly, you’ll uncover intriguing aspects of its life cycle, habitat, and behavior. Stay tuned as we explore all of this wondrous species’ captivating secrets, helping you gain a deep understanding and appreciation for the Anartia jatrophae.

Physical Characteristics

Color and Appearance

The White Peacock butterfly is a beautiful species with a distinctive look. Its wings are predominantly white with brown markings and orange margins. These brown markings create an intricate pattern, enhancing its captivating appearance.

The butterfly is also adorned with eyespots, which are eye-catching and serve a crucial purpose. These blue eyes on the wings help deter predators by confusing them or giving the impression of a larger, more threatening creature.

Size and Wingspan

White Peacock butterflies have a moderate size, with a wingspan that typically ranges between 2 to 2.75 inches. Their forewings and hindwings extend gracefully, showcasing the striking patterns and colors.

  • Wingspan: 2 to 2.75 inches
  • Predominantly white wings with brown markings and orange margins
  • Intricate patterns created by markings
  • Blue eyespots for protection against predators

In summary, the White Peacock butterfly stands out with its striking coloration and pattern, as well as the unique blue eyespots on its wings. Its moderate size and wingspan make this butterfly both aesthetically pleasing and a fascinating subject for butterfly enthusiasts.

Life Cycle

Life Span of Adults

The life span of adult White Peacock butterflies is relatively short compared to other butterflies. Make sure to cherish the moments you see them.

Egg

White Peacock butterflies begin their life as eggs laid singly on host leaves. These eggs are small and green in color. They take some time to hatch, as do eggs of most butterfly species.

Larva

After hatching from the egg, the White Peacock butterfly enters its larval stage. During this stage, it is known as a caterpillar. The larvae are black with small white spots and black spines, giving them a distinct appearance.

Here are some key characteristics of White Peacock caterpillars:

  • Black with white spots
  • Black spines
  • Feed on host plants

Chrysalis

The next stage of the White Peacock butterfly’s life cycle is the chrysalis stage. During this stage, the caterpillar undergoes a significant transformation inside a green casing, turning into an adult butterfly.

Adult

Finally, after going through the chrysalis stage, the White Peacock butterfly emerges as a fully grown adult. Adults are white with brown markings and orange margins, giving them a stunning appearance. These butterflies are also known for their wingspans, which range from 35-60 mm.

Overall, the life cycle of the White Peacock butterfly is a fascinating process including the egg, larva, chrysalis, and adult stages. Each stage is vital to their growth and development, making them the beautiful creatures we appreciate today.

Habitat and Distribution

Native Regions

The White Peacock butterfly is native to the Americas, primarily found in southern areas such as Florida, Texas, the Caribbean, and South America. They are not found in Europe, Asia, Japan, or Turkey, making their distribution region-specific.

Habitats

The White Peacock butterfly prefers a variety of habitats, including:

  • Fields
  • Parks
  • Ditches
  • Pond edges
  • Roadsides
  • Woods

In these habitats, the butterfly thrives in warm climates and can be typically seen near water sources. It is important to preserve and protect these habitats for their continued survival.

Diet and Predators

Diet of Adults

White Peacock butterflies primarily feed on nectar, which provides them with the necessary nutrients as adults. They are commonly found sipping nectar from flowering plants. Apart from nectar, they also consume sap and rotten fruit occasionally. Some examples of their preferred nectar sources include Lantana plants and other wildflowers.

Predators

White Peacock butterflies, like many other species, have their share of predators. Birds are among the most common predators that hunt adult butterflies for food. There may be other predators as well, but birds are the primary threat to their populations. To protect themselves, White Peacock butterflies rely on their bright coloration and intricate wing patterns, which can help deter or confuse potential predators.

Behavior and Habits

Flight Pattern

The flight pattern of the White Peacock butterfly is unique and graceful. These butterflies tend to have a slow, soaring flight style, which helps them conserve energy and remain in the air for longer periods. You’ll often see them gliding effortlessly through the air as they’re searching for nectar or a mate.

Mating Season

White Peacock butterflies have a specific mating season, which usually occurs in the warmer months. During this time, you’ll notice:

  • An increase in activity as they search for potential mates
  • Males engaging in ritual aerial displays to impress females

When a female is receptive to a male’s advances, they engage in a courtship dance and then mate. After mating, the female lays her green eggs singly on host leaves to ensure the survival of the species.

Territorial Behavior

Territorial behavior is common among White Peacock butterflies, especially among males. They establish specific territories within their habitats and fiercely defend them. Here are some key aspects of their territorial behavior:

  • Males choose prime locations that provide access to nectar, host plants, and potential mates
  • They engage in aggressive flights or displays to drive away intruders

By understanding the behavior and habits of the White Peacock butterfly, you can better appreciate these beautiful creatures and the unique roles they play within their ecosystems.

Importance and Conservation

Role in Ecosystem

White Peacock butterflies play an essential role as pollinators in the ecosystem. They help in the reproduction of various flowering plants, which in turn provides food and habitat for other organisms. As pollinators, these butterflies:

  • Contribute to the growth of plants and trees
  • Aid in producing fruits and seeds, which are sources of food for other animals

Conservation Status

The White Peacock butterfly is not currently facing the threat of extinction. However, it’s essential to protect their habitat and preserve their role in the ecosystem. You can take the following steps to ensure their survival:

  • Plant native flowering plants to provide nectar sources for the butterflies
  • Reduce the use of pesticides in your garden and landscape
  • Support conservation efforts that protect habitats for pollinators
  • Educate others about the importance of pollinators and their role in the ecosystem

By adopting these measures, you’ll be promoting the conservation of White Peacock butterflies and benefiting the ecosystem as a whole.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Unidentified Butterfly from Florida is melanistic White Peacock

 

Subject:  Butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwest Florida
Date: 01/10/2020
Time: 03:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have identified & photographed well over 100 species of butterflies/moths over many years, but I am at a loss for the name of this beauty, and no amount of research has been successful.  Many thanks for your help!
Respectfully, Kathy Genaw
How you want your letter signed:  Kathy Genaw

Melanistic White Peacock

Dear Kathy,
We too are having a difficult time identifying you Brush Footed Butterfly in the family Nymphalidae.  It looks most to us like the White Peacock,
Anartia jatrophae, which can be viewed on BugGuide and on Carolina Nature, and we suspect it is closely related.  It is found in Florida, but though the dorsal side is similar, the ventral side is quite different.  We suspect it might be closely related, and is most likely a tropical species that has found its way to Florida.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a more conclusive identification.

Melanistic White Peacock

Update:  January 24, 2020
We have received two comments that this is an unusually colored White Peacock.  The darker coloration is known as melanism and both melanic and melanistic are appropriate adjectives to describe this individual.

Dear Daniel,
Many thanks for your follow-up comments regarding my mystery butterfly.  I agree that it resembles the common White Peacock in some ways.  As a matter of fact, my photos indicate that I had photographed one of them nearby.  Perhaps the exact ID of this lovely butterfly in question is actually less important than having had the opportunity to observe and record such a  beautiful flyer!  May such opportunities continue for all of us for a very long time!
My best,
Kathy

 

Letter 2 – White Peacock

 

White Peacock
I see you do not have any pictures of the White Peacock and thought you may like this. These were everywhere near a lake in Florida.
Mark

Hi Mark,
Yes, this is a new species for us and we would love to have it. The White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae is a Southern species that occasionally strays further north. It frequents open areas. I also think this is the first time we have had one person with five images on our homepage at once.

Letter 3 – White Peacock

 

Butterfly
Hi WTB,
I photographed this butterfly in October near Menard, Texas. It was the only black and white one I saw, despite seeing hundreds of Monarchs and other species. Any idea what it is? Thanks,
Will

Hi Will,
The White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae, is for the most part a tropical species. According to BugGuide: “Resident from Argentina north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to South Texas and southern Florida. Migrates and temporarily colonizes to central Texas and coastal South Carolina. A rare wanderer to North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.” We are amazed at the friendliness of your specimen.

Letter 4 – White Peacock

 

White Peacock
Hi — Here are a couple of shots of the white peacock butterfly (I believe). It seems as if they were EVERYWHERE I went yesterday. I couldn’t resist taking a couple of shots and sharing.
Susan Rockwell
Alva, FL

Hi Susan,
We really appreciate you sending in your photos of a White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae. This species ranges as far south as Argentina.

Letter 5 – White Peacock

 

Insects I have identified by browsing your website , I hope you enjoy the photos…. KEEP IN TOUCH!!
Your website is AWESOME!!! And this is quickly forming into my new hobby…. I hope you enjoy these photos of insects I have taken, which I think I’ve positively identified thanks to your website just by browsing through all of the posts…. If you see any mistakes, let me know… KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!!!! BUGS RULE!!!!
Deacon Hedgelon

Hi again Deacon,
We are happy to post your image of a White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae. We would have to stay home from work today to post anything additional.

Letter 6 – White Peacock

 

White Peacock gets help
May 9, 2010
Hi Bugman. I took these white peacock pictures in October when I suddenly had about 200 of them nectaring and mating in my yard all at once. It was a gorgeous frenzy. The one in the photo had a malformed wing and was moving sluggishly. So, I put my hand in front of it and it climbed onto my finger. I took it from flower to flower for a couple of minutes and it nectared. Shortly after that it got an energy rush and starting flying around quickly with the others. Hope you like the photos. I can’t wait for the fall party this year!
Elizabeth from Orlando
Orlando, Fl.

White Peacock

Dear Elizabeth,
Your account of rescuing this White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae, is quite cheering.  The White Peacock is well represented on BugGuide.

Letter 7 – White Peacock

 

Subject:  Butterfly vs Wasp vs ???
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwest Florida
Date: 07/26/2018
Time: 11:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this butterfly on a shrub near home and cannot figure out the name.  Have only seen once but am curious has different colors (off white, brown and gold) than what I usually see.
How you want your letter signed:  Elaine

White Peacock

Dear Elaine,
This pretty butterfly, which we identified on BugGuide, is a White Peacock,
Anartia jatrophae, and according to BugGuide:  “Resident from Argentina north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to South Texas and southern Florida. Migrates and temporarily colonizes to central Texas and coastal South Carolina. A rare wanderer to North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.”

Letter 8 – White Peacock from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Pale blue butterfly in Costa Rica
Location: Platanillo, Costa Rica
May 20, 2012 12:04 pm
What have we here? This butterfly was sitting outside this morning – obviously, searching for ”blue CR butterfly” brings back only the Morpho. This one is a very delicate light shade of blue, so pretty!
Signature: Paula

White Peacock

Hi Paula,
We scanned through the images on Butterfly Farm, a website from Costa Rica, and we located a match to your butterfly,
Anartia jatrophe.  We then searched that name and found another couple of images on the Neotropical Butterflies website, one from Texas and one from Brazil, and a common name White Peacock.  The White Peacock has a large range.  According to Learn About Butterflies:  “The genus Anartia is closely allied to Junonia and its Afro-Oriental equivalent Precis, and shares their liking for sunny open habitats in disturbed woodland.  … When freshly emerged jatrophae in has a beautiful mother-of-pearl luminescence that is difficult to reproduce in a photograph.  Anartia jatrophae is distributed from the southern USA to Bolivia and Argentina. It is also found on most Caribbean islands.”  According to BugGuide, the White Peacock prefers:  “Open, moist areas such as edges of ponds and streams, along shallow ditches, weedy fields, parks.”  We suspect your individual recently underwent some trauma.  The lower wing on the left side is displaced from its typical position and the wings are somewhat ragged.

Thank you! Fascinating that I have never seen a White Peacock in all my years living in Texas (and the common name is also interesting, because it is not white). There are so many butterfly farms and gardens here in Costa Rica – it is truly a bug-lover’s paradise. I also have a large wolf spider on my bedroom wall at the moment, but prefer not to get close enough to take a picture of it 🙂

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Unidentified Butterfly from Florida is melanistic White Peacock

 

Subject:  Butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwest Florida
Date: 01/10/2020
Time: 03:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I have identified & photographed well over 100 species of butterflies/moths over many years, but I am at a loss for the name of this beauty, and no amount of research has been successful.  Many thanks for your help!
Respectfully, Kathy Genaw
How you want your letter signed:  Kathy Genaw

Melanistic White Peacock

Dear Kathy,
We too are having a difficult time identifying you Brush Footed Butterfly in the family Nymphalidae.  It looks most to us like the White Peacock,
Anartia jatrophae, which can be viewed on BugGuide and on Carolina Nature, and we suspect it is closely related.  It is found in Florida, but though the dorsal side is similar, the ventral side is quite different.  We suspect it might be closely related, and is most likely a tropical species that has found its way to Florida.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a more conclusive identification.

Melanistic White Peacock

Update:  January 24, 2020
We have received two comments that this is an unusually colored White Peacock.  The darker coloration is known as melanism and both melanic and melanistic are appropriate adjectives to describe this individual.

Dear Daniel,
Many thanks for your follow-up comments regarding my mystery butterfly.  I agree that it resembles the common White Peacock in some ways.  As a matter of fact, my photos indicate that I had photographed one of them nearby.  Perhaps the exact ID of this lovely butterfly in question is actually less important than having had the opportunity to observe and record such a  beautiful flyer!  May such opportunities continue for all of us for a very long time!
My best,
Kathy

 

Letter 2 – White Peacock

 

White Peacock
I see you do not have any pictures of the White Peacock and thought you may like this. These were everywhere near a lake in Florida.
Mark

Hi Mark,
Yes, this is a new species for us and we would love to have it. The White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae is a Southern species that occasionally strays further north. It frequents open areas. I also think this is the first time we have had one person with five images on our homepage at once.

Letter 3 – White Peacock

 

Butterfly
Hi WTB,
I photographed this butterfly in October near Menard, Texas. It was the only black and white one I saw, despite seeing hundreds of Monarchs and other species. Any idea what it is? Thanks,
Will

Hi Will,
The White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae, is for the most part a tropical species. According to BugGuide: “Resident from Argentina north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to South Texas and southern Florida. Migrates and temporarily colonizes to central Texas and coastal South Carolina. A rare wanderer to North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.” We are amazed at the friendliness of your specimen.

Letter 4 – White Peacock

 

White Peacock
Hi — Here are a couple of shots of the white peacock butterfly (I believe). It seems as if they were EVERYWHERE I went yesterday. I couldn’t resist taking a couple of shots and sharing.
Susan Rockwell
Alva, FL

Hi Susan,
We really appreciate you sending in your photos of a White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae. This species ranges as far south as Argentina.

Letter 5 – White Peacock

 

Insects I have identified by browsing your website , I hope you enjoy the photos…. KEEP IN TOUCH!!
Your website is AWESOME!!! And this is quickly forming into my new hobby…. I hope you enjoy these photos of insects I have taken, which I think I’ve positively identified thanks to your website just by browsing through all of the posts…. If you see any mistakes, let me know… KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!!!! BUGS RULE!!!!
Deacon Hedgelon

Hi again Deacon,
We are happy to post your image of a White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae. We would have to stay home from work today to post anything additional.

Letter 6 – White Peacock

 

White Peacock gets help
May 9, 2010
Hi Bugman. I took these white peacock pictures in October when I suddenly had about 200 of them nectaring and mating in my yard all at once. It was a gorgeous frenzy. The one in the photo had a malformed wing and was moving sluggishly. So, I put my hand in front of it and it climbed onto my finger. I took it from flower to flower for a couple of minutes and it nectared. Shortly after that it got an energy rush and starting flying around quickly with the others. Hope you like the photos. I can’t wait for the fall party this year!
Elizabeth from Orlando
Orlando, Fl.

White Peacock

Dear Elizabeth,
Your account of rescuing this White Peacock, Anartia jatrophae, is quite cheering.  The White Peacock is well represented on BugGuide.

Letter 7 – White Peacock

 

Subject:  Butterfly vs Wasp vs ???
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwest Florida
Date: 07/26/2018
Time: 11:05 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this butterfly on a shrub near home and cannot figure out the name.  Have only seen once but am curious has different colors (off white, brown and gold) than what I usually see.
How you want your letter signed:  Elaine

White Peacock

Dear Elaine,
This pretty butterfly, which we identified on BugGuide, is a White Peacock,
Anartia jatrophae, and according to BugGuide:  “Resident from Argentina north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to South Texas and southern Florida. Migrates and temporarily colonizes to central Texas and coastal South Carolina. A rare wanderer to North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.”

Letter 8 – White Peacock from Costa Rica

 

Subject: Pale blue butterfly in Costa Rica
Location: Platanillo, Costa Rica
May 20, 2012 12:04 pm
What have we here? This butterfly was sitting outside this morning – obviously, searching for ”blue CR butterfly” brings back only the Morpho. This one is a very delicate light shade of blue, so pretty!
Signature: Paula

White Peacock

Hi Paula,
We scanned through the images on Butterfly Farm, a website from Costa Rica, and we located a match to your butterfly,
Anartia jatrophe.  We then searched that name and found another couple of images on the Neotropical Butterflies website, one from Texas and one from Brazil, and a common name White Peacock.  The White Peacock has a large range.  According to Learn About Butterflies:  “The genus Anartia is closely allied to Junonia and its Afro-Oriental equivalent Precis, and shares their liking for sunny open habitats in disturbed woodland.  … When freshly emerged jatrophae in has a beautiful mother-of-pearl luminescence that is difficult to reproduce in a photograph.  Anartia jatrophae is distributed from the southern USA to Bolivia and Argentina. It is also found on most Caribbean islands.”  According to BugGuide, the White Peacock prefers:  “Open, moist areas such as edges of ponds and streams, along shallow ditches, weedy fields, parks.”  We suspect your individual recently underwent some trauma.  The lower wing on the left side is displaced from its typical position and the wings are somewhat ragged.

Thank you! Fascinating that I have never seen a White Peacock in all my years living in Texas (and the common name is also interesting, because it is not white). There are so many butterfly farms and gardens here in Costa Rica – it is truly a bug-lover’s paradise. I also have a large wolf spider on my bedroom wall at the moment, but prefer not to get close enough to take a picture of it 🙂

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

7 thoughts on “White Peacock Butterfly: Quick Facts for Enthusiasts”

  1. This is definitely a White Peacock, a common species in Florida. This individual has an unusual pattern and may be an aberration.

    Reply

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