Butterflies abound in Cayman

The great southern white butterflies are back in Grand Cayman, and seemingly by the thousands.

As a result of the second population outbreak on the island this year, flitters of white can be seen just about everywhere.

The great southern butterfly, which only has a life span of 14 days, is just one of some 50 species of butterflies found in the Cayman Islands, according to local butterfly expert, Ann Stafford.

Since Ivan, some butterfly species have increased in population because of the reduction in the number of birds, one of their natural predators.

The great southern white butterfly has several common larval food plants here on Grand Cayman, Mrs. Stafford said.

Other species of butterflies and moths have other specific plants they feed on.

‘Each species of butterfly or moth has its own special plant life that it eats,’ Mrs. Stafford explained.

She said the Poinciana trees on Cayman are currently infested with moth larva.

‘I just learned what moth that was,’ Mrs. Stafford said. ‘It’s really a non-descript little moth, which doesn’t even have a common name.’

Mrs. Stafford said she learned the name by visiting the website of the Natural History Museum in London.

She then typed in the scientific name of the Poinciana tree, and cross referenced it with the type of moth which eats it.

The moth, known scientifically as melipotis acontioides is common throughout the United States and the Caribbean.

Mrs. Stafford said this is a good time to see butterflies in Grand Cayman.

‘There are lots of butterflies at the moment,’ she said. ‘It’s really great to see them.’