Gulf Fritillary

Agraulis vanillae

Summary 5

The Gulf Fritillary or Passion Butterfly (Agraulis vanillae) is a bright orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae and subfamily Heliconiinae. It was formerly classified in a separate family, the Heliconiidae or longwing butterflies, and like other longwings this species does have long, rather narrow wings in comparison with other butterflies. It is the only member of genus Agraulis.

Description 6

The Gulf Artillary has pointed forewings and a wing span of 2.0 to 2.5 inches. The upperside of the butterfly is bright orange with brown and black markings. The underside is a deeper color with distinct elongated silver spots. Females are darker with heavier markings.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Larva 7

The larva is a caterpillar which grows to approximately 4 cm (1.6 in) in length. It is bright orange in color and covered in rows of black spines. The spines are soft to the touch and do not sting, but the larva is poisonous if eaten.

Black and orange stripes warn predators of the toxicity of the caterpillar which protects it from predators. Many birds avoid it. Some specialized insects such as paper wasps and pragmatists have been observed feeding on it, however, and larger caterpillars sometimes eat smaller ones.

Larval host plant 8

The larva feeds exclusively on species of passionflower, such as maypop (Passiflora incarnata), yellow passionflower (P. lutea), and running pop (P. foetida).

GTM Occurence 9

The Gulf Fritillary is a common species at the GTM. It is found along all Transects but is most abundant in the open habitat along Transect A. It is most abundant on the Marsh Pond Overlook (Transect B) among the forest Transects. The Gulf Fritillary flies from April to December with peak abundance in September and October. There have been 434 specimens observed as of December 28, 2015.

Distribution 10

The Gulf Fritillary is a resident throughout the southern United States down into Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and South America.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

Habitat 11

The Gulf Fritillary prefers subtropical second growth, woodland edges, brushy fields, and city gardens.

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Comments: Open fields, canyons, or even city gardens, with Passiflora hosts, particularly Passiflora incarnata. Not really in forest but does occur in more open southeastern pinelands. Permanent populations rquire virtually frost-free climate.

Nature serve conservation status 12

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread and common in Neotropics. Tolerates disturbance and uses open areas.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Brian Gratwicke, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://www.flickr.com/photos/19731486@N07/2956807512
  2. (c) TexasEagle, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), https://www.flickr.com/photos/texaseagle/14575353198/
  3. (c) Richard Crook, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), https://www.flickr.com/photos/richardwc/8464531143/
  4. (c) key lime pie yumyum, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/annawiz/1335386747/
  5. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agraulis_vanillae
  6. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31375285
  7. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_fritillary
  8. Adapted by GTMResearchReserve from a work by (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_fritillary
  9. (c) GTMResearchReserve, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)
  10. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31375283
  11. (c) The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/31375284
  12. (c) NatureServe, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://eol.org/data_objects/28807224

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