The Pearl Emperor – Charaxes varanes varanes

From the Genus, Charaxes – Emperors, comes this absolutely stunning Pearl Emperor.  The Charaxes species are generally brightly colours in shades of orange and red or iridescent blue. They are aggressive and territorial and will chase or push other butterflies away from food sources. The larva are usually green. The pupae are also green, sometimes with white stripes or streaks, rounded with more or less pointed head.
The Pearl Emperor, however, has orange and pearly-white wings and very conspicuous against foliage. The underside colour us quite variable, often golden brown, but can look like the picture below with almost a greenish-brown-silver look to it. The wings’ veins are also green in colour. These are relatively big butterflys with males from around 65mm – 70mm and females from 70mm – 90mm.
The distribution of the Pearl Emperor is Eastern Cape from Mossel Bay to Kwazulu Natal and Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces.
Their habitats include: forest edges, flatlands and the coast. They fly all year round in warmer areas with a week peak in September to November and a stronger peak from January to June.
Their larval foodplant consist of: Allophylus africanusAllophylus dregeanusAllophylus natalensis and also Cardiospermum halicacabum. This shot was taken at “The Island” reserve, near Seaview Lion Park, outside Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Most of this information was supplied from Steve Woodhalls book “Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa“.

Pearl Emperor - Charaxes varanes varanes

A shot with the wings open of the same butterfly.

Pearl Emperor - Charaxes varanes varanes


  1. Mike

    They really are beauties…
    Congrats to you Sean

    1. Sean Allen (Post author)

      Many thanks Mike – Appreciate it. All the best

    2. Ceci

      I am the lucky one that gets to watch them. If the wild rose bushes get too high we can turn the goats out on it. They love brush and trees a lot more than grass.

  2. Firefly

    You really know how to get close to these guys. Beautiful.

    1. Sean Allen (Post author)

      The beauty of a Canon 400m lens – Hahaha. They still fly away though, but was luck with this one.

  3. Ingrid

    This is fan-tas-tic.
    Eye opening!!!
    From now on I’ll look out for more butterflies.
    Thanks for introducing me to them.

    Send me special pics, please!!!!

Leave a Comment