BIODIVERSITY / Thousands of white butterflies in the Saint-Martin sky: when the magic of nature operates...


Every year, at this time, thousands of white butterflies appear in the Saint-Martin landscape. A grandiose spectacle of nature!

Who hasn't noticed them in recent days? There are hundreds, thousands of white butterflies all over the island. This magical spectacle surprises even an audience usually detached from natural stories. Because butterflies are popular. Pretty, slender and light as the wind, they attract only goodwill and admiration... unlike their greedy caterpillars. Barely the Great Whites of the South (Piéride du Tapier, Ascia monuste), locally called “Saint-Martin Snow” (the snow of Saint-Martin)  have it happened that nuptial flights and ephemeral couplings take place on the sides of the roads.

Mark Yokohama, co-founder of the “Les Fruits de Mer” Association and wildlife specialist in Saint-Martin, explains this phenomenon to us, which can generally be observed every year in September. “The Southern Great White is a native species that can be found all year round on the island,” says Mark. “Southern large white caterpillars eat a wide variety of plants, allowing them to significantly increase their population when vegetation is lush. Their numbers gradually increase as precipitation becomes more frequent, peaking in mid-autumn or early winter.  After a dry summer and thanks to the rains last month, the eggs, larvae and then caterpillars of the “Great White of the South” had an abundance of vegetation to feed on, which allowed a greater number to survive. Now transformed into butterflies, the insects have taken flight in the Saint-Martin landscape.”

From now on, you know almost everything about the presence of white butterflies on the island.

When the magic of nature operates, the spectacle is marvelous. It is not the inhabitants of Saint-Martin who will deny it! _AF

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