Fritillaries of Santa Rosa

This year, the first time since we arrived here in 1983, I've been seeing Gulf Fritillaries in Santa Rosa. Long May it Last!

I know they are regularly sighted around the San Francisco Bay; I've seen them myself during our occasional visits. I've read that they've followed the cultivation of passionvine up from southern california. In recent seasons they've been seen around sacramento frequently; so hopefully they are swinging around the bay and will eventually be established in Sonoma County. We've got passion vine in 'rosa too; but, until this year, never one of these unmistakable brilliant-orange creatures. Growing up butterfly-mad in L.A., we saw them every summer day. I discount any reasonable speculation that I might miss one, or be mislead when glancing at a Monarch or West Coast Lady out of the corner of my eye...

I wondered myself this spring(actually 2/24), when I saw an immaculate individual fly out of a clump of passionvine one sunny morning. I was convinced, yet hesitated to post it for a minute. I thought the implication was that it had emerged that day; so at least one gravid female had not only drifted up here but found her host and laid eggs. This all seemed implausible, but I posted the sighting anyway.

Since then I've been out of town a lot, but on my daily walks in central santa rosa I've seen them repeatedly. In the last week, every day. I'm still unable to get the photos I want of these worthy subjects; but close enough to nail any doubts about ID.

What I really want is to find some caterpillars. While the nurseries don't carry the traditional passionflower vines I remember( just tarted-up hybrids), these are common enough growing in old neighborhoods like mine. While I still tend to think our winters too cold for regular flights of A. vanillae, I'd love to be surprised.

Posted by icosahedron icosahedron, October 01, 2014 14:19

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