Butterfly Time

It’s that time of year again.  Gulf Fritillary butterflies are visiting my Passion Flower vine.

Passion Flower

The vine is trying to take over the yard so I’m glad to see them.  The Passion Flower vine is the host plant for Gulf Fritillary butterflies.  That means they choose this plant to lay the eggs for caterpillars which in turn use the vine for food.  The eggs are tiny, tiny little specks of orange and they hatch out into tiny, tiny little orange and black caterpillars.  The last link goes to a wonderful page that shows the complete life cycle.  You can even see one of the tiny eggs on her page.


Gulf Fritillary

Here’s one of the caterpillars on my vine this year.

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar munching on Passion Flower vine.

Munch, Munch, Munch………..


After the caterpillar is nice and fat, it evolves into a chrysalis—kind of a hibernation/growing stage for the developing butterfly.  A few years ago, I made a butterfly cage to keep inside and had several stems of Passion Flower vine with eggs and some caterpillars on them.  We watched every day as the life cycle progressed and were successful in hatching several butterflies which we released to the outdoors.

Gulf Fritillary Chrysalis

Another Chrysalis hiding in the vines.  They can be difficult to spot because they look like dried leaves.

Another beautiful butterfly in the making.

The caterpillars can and will eat every leaf from the vines so the plant looks pretty ugly after they’re done for the year but that’s ok with me.  It has taken over my garden bench and 2 hanging baskets this year.  I’ll cut the vine way back and it will come back to life in the spring.  They also spread like wildfire so we have them popping up in the yard all over.  I’m going to start pulling the volunteers up and potting them for Spring Garden Day.




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  1. Very interesting post! That is a beautiful butterfly, and of course one we never see in the Northwest! Thanks for sharing such a lovely glimpse at nature.

  2. Micki clemens

     /  October 15, 2012

    Beautiful pictures! The butterfly is gorgeous! Thanks for sharing. Micki

  3. becky rhodes

     /  October 15, 2012

    Sheryl, I just went to the Pacific International Quilt show in Santa Clara, CA. While there I made sure to visit the Innova booth. I think I will be in the market in about a year for a long arm. I was amazed at how easy it was to move and stitch with. So it definitely was a positive experience! Thanks for sharing your experiences and questions to ask.

  4. HelenP

     /  October 15, 2012

    OMG, This is the same one that I have. I planted the Jack Manni passion plant a few years back and it is so beautiful, the flowers, being able to see the actual birth of a butterfly. My husband is a truck driver and once when he was home during the caterpillar stage, one of them decided to attach to his front steer tire. We were hoping it would hatch before he had to leave but unfortunately it didn’t, We moved it to another safe area, and I forgot to watch to see if it had hatched or something else happened to it. I am constantly pulling up the ones that “pop” up everywhere.. It spreads underground or the birds are dropping seeds. I have shared my startings with a lot of friends but mine is so happy where it is planted it grows so big and yes takes over everything including one of the hummingbird feeders.
    thanks for sharing the links to more information about it.

  5. That is really cool! I just saw one of those flowers for the first time this year in Oregon, and they are beautiful! Thanks for sharing one of nature’s cycle with us!

  6. Pamila McReynolds

     /  October 15, 2012


    We love our passion flowers among other flowers. The dark purple is our favorite, but the one you pictured is the hardiest.


  7. kentuckykaren

     /  October 15, 2012

    My Grandmother always had a Passionflower on her clotheslines. I love them and always wanted one, but can’t find any.


  8. Eva Wiebe

     /  October 16, 2012

    i really enjoyed this article.. I am from Saskatchewan,Canada, I was wondering if the Passion flower would grow here.

  9. justquiltin

     /  October 16, 2012

    The passion flower – absolutely love as is the butterfly — but that caterpiller –he’s one ugly spiney dude! LOL


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