Gulf Fritillary
Agraulis vanillae

Medium-sized, long-winged butterfly with a wingspan up to 3-3/4 inches. The upperside of the wings is bright orange with black markings; three black-ringed white spots are present at the front edge of each forewing. The underside of the wings is brownish, with long silver spots. The hindwing has a black chainlike band at the outer margin. Females are larger and darker than males, and have more markings. The caterpillar has an orange head with black patches and two black horns on the top. The slender body is orange, with green stripes on the sides and rows of long, black branched spines. The odd-shaped chrysalis is brown and resembles a dead leaf.
Southern United States, west to California; migrates north to New Jersey and the Midwest; West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America.
Distribution and Abundance in Florida:
Adults present all year in Florida; mature larvae present all year in South Florida. Northern populations migrate into North Florida during the late summer and fall; adults overwinter.
Most open upland habitats, gardens, and open, disturbed sites.
Three or more broods per year. The yellow eggs are laid singly on many parts of host plants, especially new growth. Females will reject plants on which eggs have already been laid. Eggs also may be laid on nearby plants to avoid ant predators.
Natural History:
Ant predators eat both eggs and young larvae; they are attracted by the nectar glands on the leaves of the host plants. Adult butterflies visit the same flowers in a linear sequence during the day and also on subsequent days. Caterpillars may be carnivorous.
Caterpillars feed on most parts of host plants, especially young leaves. Native larval host plants include the vines corkystem passionflower (Passiflora tuberosa) and maypop (Passiflora incarnata). Larvae also feed on the native wildlfower piriqueta (Piriqueta cistoides subsp. caroliniana) and the nonnative edible passionfruit (Passiflora edulis). Native nectar plants include shrubs such as Christmasberry (Lycium carolinianum), silver sea-oxeye-daisy (Borrichia frutescens) and wild-sage (Lantana involucrata); wildlflowers such as blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), scorpionstail (Heliotropium angiospermum) and snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea); and vines such as yellowroot (Morinda royoc). Weedy native nectar plants include jack-in-the-bush (Chromolaena odorata), cheesytoes (Stylosanthes hamata) and Spanish-needles (Bidens alba var. radiata). Adults also will feed on the nonnative landscape plant paper flower (Bougainvillea glabra) and the nonnative invasive shrubverbena (Lantana camara).
Handling a caterpillar may cause a rash. For more information, visit the Florida Museum of Natural History's Florida Wildflowers & Butterflies website, the University of Florida/IFAS Featured Creatures website, Butterflies and Moths of North America and Butterflies of Cuba. See also the Florida Wildflower Foundation's Know Your Native Pollinators page.

Archie Edwards
Kirsten N. Hines
Joe Barros
Erin Backus
Erin Backus
Erin Backus
Archie Edwards
Kirsten N. Hines

Erin Backus