So, I've raised black swallowtails and I've raised monarchs. Now, thanks to some stowaways on some passionflower clippings Lori brought home from her aunt's house, I can add the gulf fritillary to my butterfly-rearing repertoire as well:
Fritillaries are fairly common in Houston, and they're quite striking, even as larvae. Here, a couple of brightly-colored, spiny fritillary caterpillars crawl along a passionflower vine:
The spines are not poisonous nor painful to the touch, but the caterpillars themselves are poisonous to birds and other predators. Neither the caterpillars nor the adults grow to be as large as other local butterflies such as the monarch, but they are nevertheless appealing to look at, even when their wings are folded:Here's one, in its full orange glory, resting on my butterfly net right before Kirby and I sent it outside and on its way into the world.Adults feed on typical butterfly attractors, such as lantana, but they are especially attracted to passionflower because that's the only thing their larvae eat. Hopefully Lori's passionflower cuttings will take root so that we'll see more of these guys fluttering around our yard in the future.