California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Gulf Fritillary - Agraulis vanillae

Gulf Fritillary Butterflies are flying in my garden most of the spring, summer and fall. There can be a dozen or more flying at any given time. This is as spectacular as the flowers on the passion vine that they eat. Fortunately the passion vine is extraordinarily exuberant in its growth and can usually keep up with the voracious appetites of the caterpillars. This Gulf Fritillary was slowed by a cool morning which made for some excellent viewing. The butterflies over-winter in their cocoons. These are light brown and attached to the bottom of most any fixed object including chairs, deck rails, and the bottoms of the leaves. The passion vine grows glands that mimic butterfly eggs on the leaves and petioles in an effort to dissuade the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly's from laying their eggs. Gulf Fritillary eggs can be found on the underside of the passion vine leaves or of the leaves of nearby plants. We have an extensive list of plants that will attract these beauties to your butterfly garden.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly - Top View. High resolution photos are part of our garden image collection.

I liked the attitude of the head and antennae. Butterfly antennae are smooth. Moth antennae are feathered. You can see the proboscis (tongue) curled in front of the eyes. The adult Gulf Fritillary will feed on a wide variety of nectar rich plants. This Gulf Fritillary was hiding behind some plants next to the house trying to stay warm. It was a foggy cool day, likely not warm enough for their metabolism to produce enough energy to fly.

agraulis vanillae profile

Gulf Fritillary Profile.

Gulf Fritillary Butterflies are in my yard most of the spring, summer and fall, activity dramatically slows for the winter, as most of the Butterflies over-winter in chrysalis form. They have numerous generations each year. The Gulf Fritillary will lay her eggs on the underside of the Passion Vine leaves and occasionally on nearby plants. Passion vines generate egg mimic glands that are supposed to inhibit egg laying. It is not completely successful. Nor for the sake of the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly would we want it to be. Gulf Fritillary eggs may hatch in as little as 3 days. The eggs start out yellow and darken as they age.

Gulf Fritillary Egg

Gulf Fritillary Egg - Egg photo (478 x 375 pixels).

Some plants to attract the Gulf Fritillary to your garden.
Apocynum cannabinum
Passiflora alata
Passiflora citrina
Passiflora Constance Elliott
Passiflora Coral Sea
Passiflora edulis
Passiflora Incense
Passiflora Lavender Lady
Passiflora sanguinolenta
Passiflora vitifolia