Whites and Yellows (PIERIDAE)

Butterflies & Moths (Lepidoptera)

The Pieridae is a large family of butterflies, mainly white or yellow, often with black spots. The larvae (caterpillars) of some of these species feed on brassicas, and are agricultural pests. Common Migrant Catopsilia pyranthe caterpillars are cylindrical and green, with lateral yellow bands, and black dots on the head. They live alone and grow to a length of about 40 mm. They feed openly on various species of Senna, including the Australian natives Brewster’s Cassia Cassia brewsteri, Arsenic Bush Senna planitiicola, Pepper Leaf Senna Senna barclayana, Candle Bush Senna alata, Candlestick Cassia Senna venusta, Senna aciphylla and the introduced Popcorn Cassia Cassia didymobotrya and Golden Shower Tree Cassia fistula.

Common Migrant Catopsilia pyranthePhoto: Bruce Noble

Caper White

Caper White Belenois java is a medium-sized white butterfly with black margins to its upper wings and yellow, black and white underwings. Their host plants belong to the caper family Capparis spp. They migrate to host plants in the spring, usually inland, west of the Great Dividing Range. Numbers in migrations can be very large. Sometimes migrates to areas where there are no food plants for its caterpillars. Caterpillars sometimes occur in such large numbers on food plants they completely strip them of edible leaves.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Yellow Migrant

Small Grass-yellow Eurema smilax and the Yellow Migrant Catopsilia gorgophone both feed on Edge Senna Senna acclinis — a rare plant found above Enoggera Dam and in other parts of Brisbane Forest Park. Edge Senna is being planted by SOWN in bushcare sites. The adults have a wingspan of about 60 mm. The male has forewings that are white with black edges, and has hindwings that are deep yellow. The female has forewings that are pale yellow, with a subterminal arc of brown spots. The hindwings of the female are yellow. The wings are yellow underneath, with dark spots that can have white centres, more marked in the female than the male.
Yellow Migrant butterfly. Photo: Helen Schwencke from Create More Butterflies © 2005

Black Jezebel

Black Jezebel Delias nigrina is a medium-sized butterfly with a wingspan of around 60 mm. Male has grey-white upper surfaces of wings with black wingtips, female has a large area of black. Undersides of wings for both male and female have black with yellow and red patterns. High flyers, prefer to stay in treetops, caterpillars feed mainly on mistletoes.
Photo: Derek Boddington

Yellow Albatross Female

Yellow Albatross Appias paulina ega is in the subfamily Pierinae. The female has broad dark black margins to the wings. Flight is rapid, usually high off the ground. A well-known migrant butterfly. During mid-summer they can be seen flying across Brisbane, moving toward the south.
Photo: Robert Whyte

Yellow Albatross male

Photographed on an expedition exploring the dry creek bed during the drought of May 2007, upstream from Walton Bridge Reserve.
Photo: Robert Whyte