Be advised, on Saturday, October 8, there will be a USC Football game at 4:30 PM and traffic and parking may be impacted throughout the day. Please plan your visit accordingly.

The Malachite

Ever wonder what the lime-green-and-brown patterned butterfly is?

Malachite butterfly Pavilion

By Savannah Ross

Ever wonder what the lime-green-and-brown patterned butterfly is? We are going to find out more about it! To start, the butterfly is Siproeta stelenes (more commonly known as the Malachite). Its unique colors help it to stand out and to make it more noticeable. The average wingspread of this butterfly is between 8.5 and 10 cm, which is pretty big. Sadly, it only lives 6-14 days, but no need to be upset because they make the most out of their wonderful little lives. (They are given their wings to mate and continue the cycle of life that is why they only live for up to 2 weeks.)

Malachites are most commonly known to prefer citrus. This is because they originate in more tropical places. In Florida, they are mainly found eating mango, citrus, and avocado orchards (not just for the fruit specifically, but for the weeds of the actual plants). Outside of the Pavilion—usually in the wild—malachites also feed on bird and bat droppings. Though the Pavilion doesn’t have a way to supply those types of nutrients to our butterflies, they get plenty from the fruit provided for them!

If you ever wondered if the fruit we have for the butterflies is safe and healthy for them to eat, no need to worry. Our bug experts have observed that the malachite butterflies like all types of fruit especially the overripe bananas, oranges, mangos, watermelon, and peaches. As long as it’s rotting fruit, they could care less what the fruit actually is. It’s a good thing they're not picky. They love it so much they prefer to have rotting fruit over fresh nectar from the plants in the Pavilion. (This goes for most of the butterflies in the Pavilion.)

Yellow and black malachite butterfly resting on a purple flower

Some butterflies can be territorial or aggressive towards other butterflies, but with Malachites they seem to keep to themselves! You might be thinking that the butterfly is basically a loner and the answer...Yes! Usually, they can be found chilling on a leaf, flower or on the very yummy fruit. Most of the time they are unphased when another butterfly is near them because half the time they don’t even notice. There basically an emo teenager! The butterflies enjoy the fruit so much that they snack all day long. If you visit the Pavilion, you'll most likely see a couple of them munching on some of the fruit.

Because they keep to themselves mostly, they are the easiest butterflies to actually get a good look at, or even a picture so you can remember them. They probably will be posing for that picture! They are less likely to land on you due to the fact that they are mainly in one place. They are great butterflies to learn about; you can discover new things that you might not have known before. Fun fact: The Malachite is named after the gem stone because of the green color on its wings.