Friday, September 3, 2010

Gulf Fritillary Butterflies

The passion vine growing on the trellis by our front window has attracted a bunch of Gulf Fritillary butterflies. They are quite pretty and flutter around maniacally. Apparently passion vine is one of their favorite buffets, and they've laid lots of tiny eggs that have recently hatched.

The eggs develop into caterpillars that are bright orange with scary black spikes. They've been chewing up the leaves of my passion vines and I was pleased to discover a few chrysalises several days ago.

Here a larva begins to transform. Its rear end is attached to a vine with the head hanging down, and its bright orange changes to a sickly, milky shade.

Both these chrysalises were hanging from the same bamboo stake. They formed at the same time, but they stayed different colors throughout their span. I don't know why the difference.... is one male and one female?

I went out to check them this morning at 9:30.... the dark chrysalis was now empty (darn, I missed it) and the lighter one's butterfly was already fully emerged and drying its wings. Such a beauty! After a few minutes it flew to the ground and briefly walked on my hand. A lovely way to start my day :-)


PoetessWug said...

How great for you to have them so close by to look at! I love butterflies. I get a few big ones in my backyard, but I would never be able to take as beautiful pictures of them as you have. Thanks for sharing! :-)

BlackStar said...

That is so cool! I've only come across a hatching butterfly once.

randomcrafter said...

It's fun to see this whole process. Your photos are excellent and what an experience to have the butterfly walk on your hand!

Jen said...

It has been so fun! And yet another opportunity for me to look like the neighborhood nutjob, standing outside staring at plants all the time :-)