Gulf Frittilary Butterfly on Lantana--the underwing markings shine like mother-of-pearl.This summer brought more Gulf Frittilary butterflies than we've ever seen in our Texas Hill Country yard. The conditions were right--a cool summer, 90's instead of 110, and our host-plant native passion vines were hardy from spring rains.
The vines have been ragged all summer as Gulf Frittilary caterpillars feasted.
The caterpillar's spiny projections may provide protection from being eaten by birds.
The caterpillars grow fast, moulting several times before achieving full growth. Then they attach to a structure (preferably in a shady spot), curl upward into a J position, and harden into a pupa.
Pupa in process of formation.
Gulf Frittilary pupas look a bit like a cross between a dead leaf and a bird dropping--a good disguise from hungry birds.
In two weeks, the butterfly will emerge from the hardened shell and the cycle will spin again.
Gulf Frittilary Butterfly on Pride of Barbados.If you'd like to see Gulf Frittilaries in your yard, plant a native passionvine like the Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) and wait. They'll find you.
Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.