Gulf Fritillary – Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary – Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae on Skeleton Flower

Gulf Fritillary
Agraulis vanillae
Skeleton Flower

A Gulf Fritillary lays an egg on a passionvine tendril Agraulis vanillae

A Gulf Fritillary lays an egg
on a passionvine tendril
Agraulis vanillae

A Gulf Fritillary lays an egg on my finger Agraulis vanillae

A Gulf Fritillary lays
an egg on my finger
Agraulis vanillae

A Gulf Fritillary laid an egg on a post supporting passionvine Agraulis vanillae

A Gulf Fritillary laid an egg
on a post supporting passionvine
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary eggs Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary eggs
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar eating its egg shell Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar
eating its egg shell
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar immediately after molting with blond spikes Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar
immediately after molting
with blond spikes
Agraulis vanillae

A young Gulf Fritillary caterpillar preparing to molt Agraulis vanillae

A young Gulf Fritillary caterpillar
preparing to molt
Agraulis vanillae

A young Gulf Fritillary caterpillar freshly molted Agraulis vanillae

A young Gulf Fritillary
caterpillar freshly molted
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar crawled on a grass blade to molt Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar
crawled on a grass blade
to molt
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar enjoying a passion vine flower bud Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar
enjoying a passion vine
flower bud
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars may have gray stripes along their sides Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars
may have gray stripes
along their sides
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars eating a passion vine bloom Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars
eating a passion vine bloom
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary hanging in a J preparing to pupate Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary
hanging in a J
preparing to pupate
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary chrysalis pupa Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary
chrysalis pupa
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary chrysalis pupa Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary
chrysalis pupa
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary chrysalis pupa can be near-white when they pupate in bright light Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary chrysalis pupa
can be near-white when
they pupate in bright light
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars often pupate off their host plant Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars
often pupate off
their host plant
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary chrysalises are often hidden from view Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary chrysalises
are often hidden from view
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterflies enjoy nectar from many species of flowers Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterflies
enjoy nectar from
many species of flowers
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterfly roosting at dusk Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterfly
roosting at dusk
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterfly roosting on a cloudy day Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterfly
roosting on a cloudy day
Agraulis vanillae

A Gulf Fritillary male courts a female Agraulis vanillae

A Gulf Fritillary male
courts a female
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterflies pairing  Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary
butterflies pairing
Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary butterflies are orange with black spots.  The underside of their wings are covered with orange scales with large patches of silver scales.

Gulf Fritillary butterflies are found in the lower half of the United States.

The host plant for this species is passionvine; Passiflora species.  Not all passionvine species are edible for Gulf Fritillary caterpillars.  Some species are poisonous, especially the bright red Passiflora manicata.  The burgundy flowering Lady Margaret passionvine is a host plant.

Eggs are laid singly on or off the plant.  Upon hatching, the caterpillar eats its egg shell and turns to eat (or find and eat) passionvine. Eggs are yellow when freshly laid and turn a rusty color before they hatch.

Caterpillars are orange with black spikes. Sometimes they will have gray stripes down their sides. The spikes cannot harm anything. Other caterpillars that resemble Gulf Fritillary caterpillars are the Variegated Fritillary which also hosts upon passionvine. Where Gulf Fritillary caterpillars are all orange with possible gray long stripes, Variegated Fritillary caterpillars have white patches on their bodies. Polka-dot Moth caterpillars closely resemble Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. Polka-dot Moth caterpillars have longer, softer ‘hair’, growing in clusters. They host primarily on oleander plants and never host on passionvine.

Caterpillars molt (crawl out of their old cuticle/skin) four times before they J to pupate. Because a caterpillars’ cuticle doesn’t grow, it can only stretch to a certain point before it is essential for the caterpillar to shed/molt its old cuticle. After molting, its new spikes are blond until they dry black. It is not unusual for a caterpillar to crawl off its host plant to molt.

When the caterpillar is ready to pupate, it makes a silk mat and in the silk mat, makes a little silk button. They attach their anal prolegs to the silk button and drop into a J shape. The next day, the caterpillar pupates into a chrysalis.

Adult butterflies emerge from the chrysalis, in the middle of the summer, about 9 days after pupating.

Males have brighter orange colored wings than females. Female wings are a duller orange color than male wings.

Male adult butterflies actively court females by flying over and around them. If a female does not wish to pair/mate, she often lands and leans her wings toward the male, which lands beside her to pair, preventing him from pairing with her.

 

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