Great Southern White (Ascia monuste) life history
Great Southern White (Ascia monuste) Life History



First instars shortly before molting

Second instar

Fourth instar, probably

Fifth instar


Fresh adult Great Southern White

I was delighted when Great Southern Whites started ovipositing on the well-known Clammyweed (Polanisia dodecandra) in my yard in 2013. Finally, I thought, I would be able to raise this species.  Having the butterflies present you with a couple hundred eggs gives one great confidence. However, it was not to be. Whether the caterpillars were brought in for study or left on the plants in the yard, whether those inside were on live plants or fresh cuttings or in between, whether in closed containers or vented containers, the caterpillars died. Some right away, some in later instars. And I was not alone in this experience; Jan Dauphin in Mission experienced the same issues (see her study here). In the end, it appears that at that time there was something unsuitable about Clammyweed as a host. Perhaps weather conditions affected the plants. Or, someone suggested, possibly feeding damage spurred the plants to produce a toxic chemical as a defense mechanism. Whatever the reason, I did not observe a single caterpillar from the yard eggs survive to pupate.

Great Southern Whites also use a Saltwort species that grows abundantly closer to the coast. The final three pictures are of a caterpillar I found in Cameron County.

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