Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae [Linnaeus])
Wing span: 2 1/2 - 3 3/4 inches (6.3 - 9.5 cm).
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.
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.
Conservation: Not usually of concern.
The Nature Conservancy Global Rank: G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.
Management needs: Cultivate host plants.
Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates. Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates. Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.
Author: Jane M. Struttmann
State and Regional References:
Opler, Paul A. 1999. Peterson Field Guide to Western Butterflies, revised edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western USA Butterflies. Privately published, Denver, Colo.