Great Southern White

Great Southern White Ascia monuste

Type of Animal:
Pierid Butterfly

Dunes, beaches, marshes, coastal plains, offshore islands, sandy flats, disturbed areas, roadsides, open fields, gardens, open areas, coastal uplands

Ranges from US through Central America & Caribbean all the way to Chile & Argentina

Males whitish w/ black forewing apex, females white or smoky gray w/ black forewing cell spot, caterpillars mottled gray to greenish w/ 5 orange/yellow longitudinal bands & many small hairy black spots, dry season females look more similar to males, wet season females darker, blue antennal clubs on both sexes

Adults feed on saltwort, lantana, verbena, & basil flowers (mainly for nectar). Caterpillars eat crucifer plants (cabbage plants/radish plants/mustard plants/etc.), spider flower, & nasturtium as well as conspecific eggs.

Status in Wild:

Breeding in butterfly gardens, zoos, aquariums, & museums

Groups of 20-2,000 butterflies

Additional Info:

Young: Caterpillar
Group: Flutter

4-7 days

Life Span:
1-2 months

Body Length/Wingspan:
Male: 2.5 in
Female: 3.375 in
Caterpillar: 1 in

Females lay eggs singly or in clusters on upper surfaces of host plant leaves. Eggs hatch into caterpillars after 4-7 days.

Caterpillar stage lasts 2-4 weeks-caterpillars go through 5 instars (development stages) before chrysalis (pupal) stage, which lasts another 1-2 weeks. After this stage, they transform into butterflies, living for 3-10 days. Males die soon after mating & females die after laying eggs.

These butterflies migratory in parts of their range-these migrations last 2 days max.

Eggs are yellow & spindle-shaped.

Only species in genus Ascia.

Caterpillars more competitive w/ each other after 1st 2 instars.

Multiple females sometimes lay eggs on same surface.

These butterflies can be seen year round in parts of range, since multiple generations produced each year.

Fun Fact(s):
Many host plants eaten by caterpillars contain chemicals (glycosides) making larvae less palatable.

Caterpillars can be pests since many of their favorite foods are in the family Brassicaceae/Cruciferae. This family includes cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, mustard plants, kale, & radish plants-all popular crops.

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