Life cycle of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly

September 03, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

This week's blog will share some of the backyard wonders we have here at home.  While I haven't yet spotted one of these butterflies laying the eggs (therefore I haven't found any eggs), we have several caterpillars that have gone through the life cycle in our backyard.   The host plant for this butterfly is the purple passion flower vine.  These views have beautiful complex flowers that are really nice.  A close up of the inner portion of the purple passion flower.

This plant is necessary for the little caterpillars to eat and live on during the first stage of their life.  Our backyard is a haven for several types of butterflies including this one.  When the caterpillars are close to full grown, they look like this - orange with black spikes all over their bodies.

 

Once the caterpillar is about to create a pupae, they will hang upside down in a "J" and turn a little white in color.

The next step is to create the pupae which is brown in color.  Keep in mind, these are very small - the pupae is probably a little longer than 1 inch in length.  The pupae looks almost like a dead leaf hanging on the plant.

After about 10-12 days, the butterfly will emerge from the pupae.

And the beautiful bright orange butterfly on the top of the wings will emerge.  The bottom side of the wings looks quite different than the top.  This is a newly emerged butterfly - the underside of the wings are shown in this photograph.

The top side of the wings look bright orange as shown in this photograph.

 

Family: Brush-footed Butterfly (Nymphalidae)

Subfamily: Longwing (Heliconiinae)

Average Wingspan: 2 1/2" - 3 3/4"

Habitat: Gardens, open woodlands


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