The Drakensberg and Natal Midlands are butterfly hotspots. In the Drakensberg, look out for small butterflies around midday. Because conditions are usually windy, they often fly low and find shelter in the grass. Larger, more conspicuous butterflies are found in the gardens of resorts. The best butterfly season is between November and June.
Leopards Lair Lodge near to Giants Castle offers butterfly tours. Like the beautiful and serene butterfly, our butterfly tour seeks to introduce visitors to the lush and peaceful Midlands countryside and Drakensberg foothills. Their butterfly tours are led by a local guide who is keen to share his extensive knowledge about local rarities like the Midlands Widow, Estcourt Blue, The King Blue and the Mooi River Opal which are endemic and only found within a few km radius. We also talk about our local communities, its people, and traditions. Visitors will have the opportunity to encounter and experience farm life at a comfortable pace, away from the usual tourist hotspots.
A common butterfly at the Drakensberg is the Garden Acraea. It is small, mostly dull orange with a few black spots, and with conspicuously transparent fore-wings. It flutters weakly around its favourite plant, Kiggelaria africana (Wild Peach tree). This is where it lays its eggs, so the caterpillars have the right food. Nearly every plant-eating insect specialises on the single species that it can digest (all plants produce defensive chemicals to keep the ravening hordes at bay). Acraea caterpillars are small, black and hairy, and are the main food of cuckoos. The caterpillars hatch in such numbers that they can eat every leaf on the tree. With no food left they must pupate. Now the tree grows a new set of leaves, recovering completely.