The Gulf Fritillary and its Passion

oh my, what this poor Passion vine has to go through!
But it is ok, this Passiflora, commonly known as Maypop vine, is a Florida native plant and I grow it for the butterflies, specifically for the Gulf Fritillary.

Gulf Fritillaries are really prolific, females keep laying eggs on the vine until it is completely stripped. Not sure what happens then, do the ladies fly on to find another vine? what if they do not find one close by? Anyways, the vine started out just beautiful, as all Passion vines do.

But before you know it, the butterflies find it. One early morning, enjoying a cup of coffee, I see them. An army of caterpillars in shiny orange color with jet-black spines and they come in all sizes.

The voracious beasts have nothing else in mind but eating this yummy passion vine. They start on one leaf and meticulously graze it off.
Can you see what's left of that one large leaf? Just the thin edge.

And they do like the purple flowers, buds especially, they dig in and eat from the inside out

They sure did a number on that vine

But, look, the vine does not give up, it keeps growing. And it is growing fast.

When the caterpillars are so stuffed they can't eat any more, they waddle off and find a spot to hang themselves. Literally. just look at it:

And as fast as they can, the caterpillars are no more. In their place are the pupae resembling crumbled dried leaves.

This butterfly is not an unusual or rare butterfly but its bright orange colored wings are so beautiful, especially when there are several fluttering around in the garden.

Compared to the other butterflies this one held still long enough for me to snap pictures.

Passion vines are also host plants for the Julia butterfly, but I have never seen one in Myrtle Glen.

The caterpillars of the Zebra Longwing butterfly prefer the passion vine growing in more shade and they are by far smaller in number and do not strip that vine so completely.

Zebra Longwing in Myrtle Glen

More about the Gulf Fritillary


  1. Hungry critters. Nice pictures and narrative.

  2. Herzlichen Glückwünsch zu diesen schönen Schmetterlingen

  3. Danke, ich freue mich auch sehr, und nun sind schon wieder neue Raupen auf dem Klettergewaechs.