View Full Version : White Monarch Butterflies

May 17th, 2009, 01:37 PM
Cruising Kane`ohe Saturday, I came upon a garage sale. More interesting than the sale, however, was the woman's hobby. She raises Monarch Butterflies.

She had dozens of net 'cages' containing butterflies, pupae, caterpillars and eggs. Hundreds of each. She had nectar flowers for the butterflies, crown flower leaves for the caterpillars, stands for the pupae.

Most unusual was that a small percentage of her monarchs were black and white rather than black and orange! She says she is one of two people she knows who propagates white monarchs.

I have always kept one or more crown flower plants to attract monarchs and provide food for the caterpillars, but I leave them to nature. She says the caterpillars are attacked and eaten by yellow hornets and that Bulbuls are able to eat the butterflies (I thought they were poisonous). She protects them until the butterflies are well-fed and strong, and then releases them.

I was quite impressed. What a novel way to help beautify our island home.

May 19th, 2009, 02:38 AM
Kaonohi, I'm guessing that you met either Dancetta Feary or Springs Romano.

To the best of my knowledge, they are the two women who raise White Monarch Butterflies. Both of them are very gracious ladies who work hard to bolster the population of not only White Monarchs, but Monarch Butterflies in general.

I met Springs at Kahala Mall a few years ago, when she coordinated a "Butterfly House" display for the mall. I learned about the nonprofit org she founded, and how it helps women & girls in transition. The participants get an object lesson in growth and metamorphosis as they learn about and help care for the butterflies. The activity generates other therapeutic benefits as well.

Dancetta is related to one of my friends; she's also the sister of the late entertainer Mackey Feary, of Kalapana. I've met Dancetta on a couple of occasions, and she's invited me out to her place to see the butterfly nursery. Unfortunately, I haven't made it there yet, but hope to sometime soon.

The MidWeek Windward section did a story about Dancetta a little over a year ago. You can view it on her website at: http://www.whitemonarchs.com/dancettaarticle.pdf

Springs was featured in a story that ran in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin back in 2005: http://archives.starbulletin.com/2005/03/29/features/story1.html

Both articles have accompanying photos. If anyone is curious to see what the White Monarchs look like, you can see some of them in the photo with Dancetta.

May 19th, 2009, 10:59 AM
Thanks! It was Dancetta I visited, though I didn't ask her name. I was general about her location cause I didn't want to invade her privacy. That shot went wild.
Her setup is awesome. I'm going to have to do something like that - but on a smaller scale.

May 19th, 2009, 11:09 AM

Mahalo for sharing with us your find.

And musubi, mahalo for the links.

Wonderful stories. :D

Auntie Lynn

May 19th, 2009, 08:58 PM
I was kind of wondering why I don't see too many Monarchs in the wild. So they do have natural predators now... both for the caterpillar and adult. Once upon a time I was led to believe that because of their foul taste and distinctive color, other insects and birds avoided them.

Leo Lakio
May 20th, 2009, 06:19 AM
There was a study about these white morphs on O`ahu about twenty years ago. Here is the "lay summary" of the study ---

Predator induced colour polymorphism in Danaus plexippus L. (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in Hawai`i.
Stimson, J | Berman, M
Heredity. Vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 401-406. 1990.

On the island of O`ahu, Hawai`i, the Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) has two distinct and genetically determined wing-colour morphs, white and orange. The white morph has increased in frequency in the last 20 years, perhaps because of the predation on the orange form by the introduced birds Pycnonotus jacosus and Pycnonotus cafer, bulbuls. These birds are the only insect-eaters whose distributions coincide with that of white monarchs in Hawai`i. The birds are not deterred by the cardiac glycosides in the monarchs' tissues. The orange form may be at greater risk of predation because it stands out against the foliage and infloresences of the milkweeds where the butterflies oviposit and feed in large numbers, and where predation commonly occurs. Several observations are consistent with the hypothesis that whites are more cryptic. A larger proportion of white butterflies are captured by setting at a particular time than eclose during the same period. Secondly, monarch wings found on the ground at the study sites and presumably broken off by the predators were almost all orange, again suggesting that the risk of predation is lower for white individuals. Lastly, the three other major Hawaiian islands which have been surveyed have orange monarchs but lack both bulbuls and white monarchs. These results suggest bulbuls exert a strong selection against the orange morph and are probably the cause of the increase in frequency of the white morph.

May 20th, 2009, 03:17 PM
There was a study about these white morphs on O`ahu about twenty years ago. Here is the "lay summary" of the study ---

Very interesting, LL. I'm sure glad that was the "lay" summary... :p

I wonder to what extent can bulbuls "see" color? Or do they see food (fruits, insects, orange Monarchs) as shades of gray? :confused:

I've found it rarer and rarer to see ANY butterflies where I live, but there are LOTS of bulbuls. They seem to eat just about everything.

May 21st, 2009, 04:19 AM
Re: White Monarch Butterflies

Go on and shoot me down in flames ? We have small 17 foot sailing boats which flit up and down my river. With their white sails up,,,, we call them 'the Butterflies.'
They only do a few miles around the buoys (boys in your lingo) :)
They have tons of fun and twice a year I get invited to their meals at the restaurant.

May 27th, 2009, 07:13 PM
I started clipping leaves with caterpillars and eggs, and securing them away from ants, hornets and bulbuls - just a few days ago, actually.
Them caterpillars HUNGRY buggahs! Eat plenty!

Brought some 'extra' leaves to Dancetta - I could tell it was "nice try, but not enough."

Now I got my own kids to take care of.... :rolleyes:

Anyway, TMLSS (to make long story short), today, near my own house, I saw my very own first white-variety Monarch! I don't know if it's because previously I ASSumed all monarchs were orange-black, or if this is really my 'first!'

I know, who cares, right? Guess ya had to be there..... :p

Breeding butterflies is cheaper and less rewarding than breeding dog$, cat$, goat$, $heep, and Horse$, but WTF, it makes the world a more beautiful place.

I like that!