Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nash Prairie Fritillaries and Phaon Crescent

Flamboyant Passion-flower Blossom, Passiflora incarnata.

As we were departing Nash Prairie, someone noticed Passion-flower, Passiflora incarnata,  blooming on a barbed-wire fence near our truck. On the Passion-flower leaves there were the dramatic caterpillars of the Gulf Fritillary.   Scott, my fellow Master Naturalist, held back the leaves so I could snap a picture.  Back in the truck,  we started to drive away,  when Aaron, the Project Director, spotted an unfamiliar butterfly.  We all jumped out of the vehicle to look and identify.   Thank goodness for digital cameras:  it is much easier to examine a critter from a picture, back at home, after a shower, with all the field guide books handy.  I decided that the mystery butterfly was a Varigated Fritillary, Euptoieta claudia.  The Varigated Fritillary also uses Passion-flower as a larval host! If anyone has a different identification for it, please let me know!

Before coming to the Nash Prairie, I had not seen a tiny Phaon Crescent, Phyciodes phaon.  I grow a lot of its larval host plant, Frog Fruit, Phyla, as a ground cover at my house.

Larva of Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, munching on Passionflower leaves

Plump, glossy, purple and orange striped caterpillar of Gulf Fritillary butterfly on Passionflower leaves
Varigated Fritillary, Euptoieta claudia, nectaring on Brazilian Vervain

Another view: Varigated Fritillary nectaring on Brazilian Vervain
Phaon Crescent nectaring on Frog Fruit.  Frog Fruit is also its larval host
Another view: Phaon Crescent, Phyciodes phaon, nectaring on Frog Fruit


Crafty Cristy said...

Fantastic! Thank you for sharing this.

Sally said...

Well thank you, Christy, for your kind remark. :-)

Sally said...

Uggh. I realized that I posted the picture of the fat, purple-striped caterpillar twice. I guess I really liked him! Well, I have fixed that now and replaced it with an image showing the cat's thoracic legs and head. :-)

Julie Hargreaves said...

Great blog i will be looking in more often

Sally said...

Hello, Julie and thank you for your comment!