No cause for alarm as white butterflies harmless — expert

They neither destroy crops nor portend the coming of drought, Dr Muo Kasina said

In Summary

• Entomologist gives assurance that the white butterfly population is harmless

• He dismissed claims that the white butterflies is a sign of the onset of drought

White butterflies known as Belenois aurota are migrating from place to place.
White butterflies known as Belenois aurota are migrating from place to place.

An expert has assured Kenyans that the white butterflies being sighted in some parts of the country are harmless.

Chairman Association of Kenyan Entomologists Dr Muo Kasina told the Star the white butterflies, known as Belenois aurota, are migrating from place to place.

Some Kenyans, especially farmers, have raised concerns about white butterflies that have been sighted in parts of the country, including flower farms in Naivasha.

“When the weather conditions are good, such as what we have been experiencing in the country, they lay eggs and multiply,” he said. 

Kasina said when the weather is conducive, the butterflies lay eggs, which hatch to larva or caterpillars, then to pupa and then to the butterfly or moth.

Adults emerge in mid-Spring and lay eggs on the leaves. Eggs hatch in four to eight days, and the larva matures to pupa in two to three weeks.

The development from egg to adult requires three to six weeks.

“After that, the butterfly dies. This is the full cycle of the butterflies,” he said.

The Pioneer White or African Caper White (Belenois aurota) is a small to medium-sized butterfly of the family Pieridae, that is, the Yellows and Whites, which is found in South Asia and Africa.

In Africa, it is also known as the Brown-veined White, and is well known during summer and autumn, when large numbers migrate northeast over the interior.

He said from the March-April-May long rains season last year, it has been raining in most places and this followed through to the short rains in October to December 2023.

Kasina assured that the population does not cause any harm to crops, so there should be no cause for alarm.

The entomologist also dismissed claims that the sighting of the white butterflies is a sign of the onset of drought.

“This is a myth and people should not fear. We had the butterflies a year ago and this is just a migration pattern. People should not be alarmed,” he said.

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