Hosting the Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar
A couple of days ago I looked out my front window and saw a beautiful sight that I had longed for all summer. I noticed a sea of orange fluttering bodies bobbing and weaving over the front fence line. I instinctively knew what this meant.The Gulf Fritillary butterflies were depositing their eggs on the passion flower vine that covers my front fence.The Gulf Fritillary or Passion Butterfly is bright orange and belongs to the Nymphalidae family. It takes its name from migrating flights of butterflies over the Gulf of Mexico.
I am always excited to welcome them back to our Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat, but this year is extra special. Last summer due to the extreme heat and drought, my seven year-old vine, died back to the ground before the eggs had a chance to be laid.
I walked outside with much anticipation to see if any of the eggs had already hatched. The timing of the garden has been early this year. I think it is because of the lack of a cold winter and an early, extremely hot summer; everything is off by a good month. This includes the laying of the Gulf Fritillary larvae. In past years, we never had full grown caterpillars until September; we have them ready to cocoon now, as I found out when I journeyed into the yard.
The Gulf Fritillary butterflies are native to North America and overwinter in Florida and Texas. In our habitat, we have been hosting the caterpillars for eight years. Helping a variety of butterflies to survive and prosper is tremendously rewarding. The health of the environment can be judged on the bees, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife that inhabits it.
I would highly recommend planting Lantana in your yard to attract the adult butterflies. Lantana comes in all shapes and colors these days; with several color schemes available, you can easily pick one to fit into your garden.
The adult lays its eggs on the foliage of the passion flower vine. It is the host plant for the caterpillar and provides food for the transformation into a butterfly. There are nine different species of the vine native to North America.
Gardening for Butterflies
Resources for Butterflies
No matter if you live in the country or the city, you can garden for butterflies; the Gulf Fritillary inhabits both. Remember, even small steps help to nurture nature and makes a difference.
- Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center | Callaway Gardens
Flights of fancy await you in the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center, where over 1,000 tropical butterflies, representing more than 50 different species, flutter freely through the air.
- The Butterfly WebSite - butterfly photos, butterfly clipart, education, butterfly zoos and more!
The oldest and most complete website for butterfly lovers, gardeners, teachers, students, and farmers. Butterfly clip art, inspirational stories, butterfly gardening, wildlife gardening, educational articles, butterflies and moths in the news, ecolog
- Butterflies and Moths of North America | collecting and sharing data about Lepidoptera
About the Author
Catherine Dean is a freelance writer, gardener, quilter, and blogger. Her professional background includes nonprofit program development, grant writing, and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from Georgia College & State University.
Catherine is an award winning community volunteer who places high value on service to others. She has served in several leadership capacities for various charities/nonprofits in her lifetime. Her blog, Sowing A Simple Harvest, chronicles a modern couple trying to live a simplistic, sustainable life. To explore Catherine's professional credentials, visit her website. She can also be followed on Google+.