White Peacock – Anartia jatrophae


White Peacock butterflies, Anartia jatrophae, look like antique lace.  Their wings are patterned in white, brown, and beige.

They are found primarily in the Gulf Coast states and in South Carolina.  They tend to be flying in damp areas, where their native host plants prefer to grow.

Eggs are laid singly.  If there are quite a few butterflies and only a few host plants, they may lay several in one spot, but the eggs are still laid singly, with the female flying off before returning to lay another egg.


Host plants include water hyssop (Bacopa), frog fruit (Lippia), and some species of Ruellia. In captivity, they also eagerly lay eggs on and eat green shrimp plant (Blechum) and plantain (Plantago).


Frogfruit – Lippia species


Mexican petunia

Caterpillars are almost always black. Although they look a bit prickly, they do not harm or sting.


Black White Peacock caterpillar eating water hyssop.


Occasionally a red toned caterpillar surprises us. They range from this color to dark cranberry red. This one is eating plantain.

Caterpillars hang in a J shape before pupating into a green or black chrysalis. Sometimes a chrysalis will be a mixture of the two colors.


A day before emerging, their eyes will show through the chrysalis shell.  Soon their wings will also become visible.