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Gulf Fritillary on Red Snapdragon

Lisa G. Putman

Joined November 2007

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This gulf Fritillary butterfly photograph was taken at the Trinity Lakes Sports Complex in Memphis, TN, USA

Canon EOS 30D SLR

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Gulf Fritillary ~ Agraulis vanillae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Family: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

Subfamily: Longwings (Heliconiinae)

Identification: Upperside bright orange with black markings; 3 black-encircled white dots on forewing leading edge. Underside brown; forewing with orange at base; both wings with elongated, iridescent silver spots.

Life history: Males patrol for females, who lay eggs on many parts of the host plant. Caterpillars feed on most parts of the host. Adults overwinter in the south.

Flight: Throughout the year in south Florida and South Texas, January-November in the north. Number of broods has not been determined.

Wing span: 2 1/2 – 3 3/4 inches (6.3 – 9.5 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Various species of passion-vine including maypops (Passiflora incarnata) and running pop (P. foetida).

Adult food: Nectar from lantana, shepherd\’s needle, cordias, composites, and others.

Habitat: Pastures, open fields, second-growth subtropical forest and edges, city gardens.

Range: South America north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to the southern United States. Wanders north to the central United States; rare northward.

I love the Gulf Fritillary butterfly. Both sides of It’s wings are equally beautiful, yet a totally different look viewed with wings open or closed.

The flowering plant the butterfly is enjoying is called the:

Firecracker Penstemon, Penstemon eatonii, Snapdragon or Figwort Family: ( Scrophulariaceae ), Firecracker Penstemon. Also called: Mexican firecracker, Beardtongue, Penstemon.

A low evergreen shrub, or herbaceous perennial. This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds.

It has sprawling or upright growth patterns. The flower stalks are often arched over near the tops and straighten out as the stem gains strength. The corolla lobes are very small so that it appears to be a very narrow long closed tube instead of being open..

Height: About 3 – 4 feet in height.

Flowers: The flower is funnel-shaped, with short round lobes. The corolla is about 3/4 inch long, glandular and hairy on the outside. It has a broad upper corolla with a 2 – lobed lip, bent upward. The lower corolla lip is 3 – lobed and bent downward. There are 5 stamens, the fifth is sterile but bearded at the tip.
Stalk: Several erect, sparsely leaved stems with pinkish-lavender, bilaterally symmetrical flowers in a long, open, interrupted cluster.

Blooming Time: February – May.

Leaves: Green to blue – green, fleshy, about 2 – 5 inches long, triangular leaves, smooth.

Found: Found throughout medium elevations in Arizona.

Elevation: 2500 – 4500 Feet.

Habitat: Chalky/alkaline, Dry, Sandy, Well-drained/light soils, sandy washes.

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Artwork Comments

  • lorilee
  • Lisa G. Putman
  • Ryan85
  • Rick Playle
  • NatureGreeting Cards ©ccwri
  • Daniel J. McCauley IV
  • eaglewatcher
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