It’s that time of year again. Gulf Fritillary butterflies are visiting my Passion Flower vine.
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.
Here’s one of the caterpillars on my vine this year.
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.
Another Chrysalis hiding in the vines. They can be difficult to spot because they look like dried leaves.
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.