Catopsilia pyranthe (Linnaeus, 1758 )
White Migrant
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Catopsilia pyranthe
(Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

The Caterpillars of this species are cylindrical and green, with lateral yellow bands, and black dots on the head. They live alone and grow to a length of about 4 cms. They feed openly on various species of Cassia and Senna ( CAESALPINIACEAE ), including the Australian natives :

  • Mark's Cassia ( Cassia marksiana ),
  • Sprawling Cassia ( Senna aciphylla ),
  • Candle Bush ( Senna alata ),
  • Pepper Leaf Senna ( Senna barclayana ),
  • Arsenic Bush ( Senna planitiicola ),
  • > Candlestick Cassia ( Senna venusta ), and

    and the introduced

  • Popcorn Cassia ( Cassia didymobotrya ), and
  • Golden Shower Tree ( Cassia fistula ).

    Catopsilia pyranthe
    (Photo: courtesy of Wes Jenkinson)

    The pupa is attached to a leaf or stem by cremaster and girdle. It has a length of about 3 cms.

    Catopsilia pyranthe
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The adult butterflies have a wingspan of about 5 cms. The upper surfaces of the wings are white. The males have a black tip to each forewing. The females have black margins around each wing, and a black dot on each forewing.

    Catopsilia pyranthe
    hiding under a Red Ash leaf
    (Photo: courtesy of Jeff Keyes, Sportsman Creek Wildlife Refuge, New South Wales)

    Underneath, the wings are cream coloured, with pale brown freckles.

    Catopsilia pyranthe
    egg, magnified
    (Photo: courtesy of Ken Walker, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The eggs are white, spindle-shaped, and ridged. The eggs have a height of about 1.5 mm. They are laid singly on a leaf of a foodplant.

    Catopsilia pyranthe
    (Specimen: courtesy of the The Australian Museum)

    The species occurs as a number of races across south-east Asia, including

  • India,
  • Singapore,
  • Thailand,

    and in Australia as the races

  • pyranthe and
  • crokera (W.S. Macleay, 1826)

    over much of Australia, including:

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Lord Howe Island,
  • Victoria, and
  • South Australia.

    Further reading :

    Michael F. Braby,
    Butterflies of Australia,
    CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 2000, vol. 1, pp. 289-291.

    William Sharp Macleay,
    in Philip Parker King :
    Narrative of a Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia,
    Volume 2 (1826), Appendix B, p. 458, No. 137.

    Frank Jordan & Helen Schwencke,
    Create More Butterflies : a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants
    Earthling Enterprises, Brisbane, 2005, pp. 48, 66.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Insecta Lepidoptera,
    Systema Naturae,
    Volume 1, Edition 10 (1760), Class 5, Part 3, p. 469, No. 66.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 1 January 2012, 20 October 2013, 19 March 2015, 10 June 2020, 5 September 2021)