Post last updated: February 1st, 2020

These Gulf Fritillary caterpillars are a perfect example of “If you build it, they will come.” For the last few years, I have worked at building a butterfly habitat. It got a big boost in mid-October when Cee and I went to Gainesville to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History. Our plan was to shop their plant sale (held twice a year) and then visit the butterfly house. To our delight, their web page for the plant sale made it easy to find butterfly habitat plants. It was a chart indicating whether the listed plant was nectar, host, accent or native. Both Cee and I used that web page to make a ‘want’ list.

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars on ‘Lady Margaret’ Passion Vine

One of the plants I purchased was a ‘Lady Margaret’ Passion Vine. It doesn’t look as good as it did in mid-October. I attribute this to all kinds of wacky weather — high 80’s then low 30’s, and minimal rain. I think the passion vine is in survival mode. It is so confused it’s blooming. Normal bloom time is mid-summer to mid-fall, not January.

‘Lady Margaret’ passion vine buds

Passion vines are a host and nectar source for the Zebra Longwing and Gulf Fritillary. For more information on the passion vine and butterflies in Florida, see this article at the University of Florida. My post has basic information on the Gulf Fritillary.

On January 27, I noticed one of the buds unfurling but I didn’t grab my camera. One of the caterpillars was wrapped around the flower busily gnawing it to nothingness.

This morning I walked out to see what was left of the flower. I was pleased to see slightly more than half of it:

Almost half of ‘Lady Margaret’ passion flower eaten overnight by caterpillar

The list of caterpillars spotted at the Southern Rural Route is growing — Monarch, Giant Swallowtail and Gulf Fritillary.


14 thoughts on “IF YOU BUILD IT”

    1. No kidding! Also blooming or soon to bloom — Amaryllis, Azalea, Bougainvillea, Blue Curls and Cigar Plant (both from Gainesville), Clivia bulb, Impatiens, Penta, Periwinkle, Pink Knotweed, Maple trees, Million Bells, Milkweed, Redbud trees and a Louis Phillipe ‘Cracker’ Rose. Only the Clivia, Penta and the Rose are blooming profusely. Still … it “ain’t natcheral.”

  1. I need to get my passion vines in the ground. I can’t wait for spring! In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of cleaning and prep work to do. Weeds, weeds and more weeds. -Cee

      1. Florida betony? C’mon…. I’ve been bringing that in… just trying to get it to grow…. those tubers are good eating… and… you’ve even commented on those posts!

    1. Ha! I knew they were butterfly caterpillars but I couldn’t remember which one. I could have looked it up in one of my butterfly pamphlets or books but it was just easier to take a photo and ask Cee. She knews this stuff off the top of her head and she’s young enough to still have a memory.

  2. I used to get tons of gulf fritillary butterflies on my passionflower vines in Oklahoma! Hope you enjoy your visitors as much as I did.

  3. I would like the butterflies, but I don’t think I would like the caterpillars eating the pretty flowers. I get real upset when the deer eat my flowers.

    1. Ms. Priss – The butterflies have specific plants that are a food source for them. This means they don’t devour every flower off of every plant. I prefer to sacrifice a few flowers to have all the gorgeous butterflies. You can visit my various articles on different butterflies and you’ll find that they have “favorites” for nectar and hosting.

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