The Migration of Belenois aurota

The Migration

Commonly known as the brown veined white, this butterfly has brought awe to many South Africans who observe this phenomena of white butterflies flying from the west coast of South Africa through to the East Coast, using different flight paths and freeways, continuing their journey northwards, until they amalgamate together in the regions of KwaZulu Natal, Free State and head for Gauteng and Mpumalanga, forming what seems to be a sea of white flying butterflies. They then pass through in the hope to reach Mozambique, in the surrounding district near Ponte and head directly east into the sea in an attempt to cross the ocean to reach Madagascar and further north into Africa and even further to their unknown destinations. Unfortunately the butterflies die during this last part of the journey because they become so dehydrated and cannot make the long journey. Thus ending up in the sea and becoming fish food. This is only Nature’s way of culling the herds, so to speak.

Many people wonder how it is possible for the butterfly to complete such a long journey. Well they do not. What really happens is that the migration begins in the land masses of the West Coast on the Atlantic Ocean and start a general flight inland, using three main flight paths. As the numbers of butterflies increase heading inland, there seems to create an urgency in other butterflies to move on with them, creating an euphoria of excitement. One can plainly see the behaviour of the butterflies in this beginning stage of the migration as having changed their behaviour pattern to a more erratic flight pattern from the normal, more relaxed one. All along the coast, similar colonies are acting in the same fashion. Gradually others begin to follow and the migration is born.

What to do when you first witness the migration taking place? Feel free to contact us whenever you do have the opportunity of witnessing this remarkable event. The information you have supplied will help us greatly to see whether the numbers of our migratory butterflies are dwindling or increasing. It also educates us as to which other flight paths they create for the future. Please contact us on Thank you