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Provide for Wildlife- The Gulf Fritillary

Article by UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Urban Horticulture Agent Lorna Bravo

Our urban Yards are the first line of defense to protect local wildlife.

As urban areas rapidly increase worldwide, our urban yards are the first defense line preserving Florida’s fragile environment. Let’s invite native plants into our yards. If you plant them, the butterflies will come! How do we do this? Invite plants with nectar sources in your yard—select plants with seeds, fruit, flowers, or berries. Contact our Broward Extension office for a list of plants you can invite in your yard to support wildlife and consider recognizing your yard as a Florida-Friendly Landscape.

Did you know that you can find the Gulf Fritillary butterfly in all 67 Florida counties?
The Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

The Gulf fritillary, Agraulis vanillae (Linnaeus), has orange with black markings butterfly (female duller orange). It is in the subfamily Heliconiinae of the family Nymphalidae. Females are generally larger than males, making the sexes dimorphic, i.e., systematically different. The range of the butterfly is eastern, the central U.S., west to Texas, and south to Miami-Dade County though also found beyond the U.S. in Mexico, Central America, the West Indies to South America. This butterfly frequents roadsides, disturbed sites, fields, open woodlands, yards, and parks and is a regular in most butterfly gardens, including those in more urban settings. This butterfly creates multiple generations a year, and in the late summer to fall, they migrate to Florida’s peninsular using known wildflowers for nectar-like Spanish needles or salvia. In spring, Florida adults move northward, establishing temporary breeding colonies.

 

How do they protect themselves against predators?

They emit a distinct odor, a chemical from abdomen glands announcing they’re unpalatable. 

The Gulf Fritillary eggs
Did you know that the yellow eggs are laid singly on or near the hostplant?

Gulf Fritillary Egg- Photo Credit Broward County MGV Amy Rielly

 

Egg Stage-Video Created by Broward County MGV Amy Rielly

The eggs are yellow, elongate, laid singly on host leaves and tendrils.

The Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

The mature larva of a gulf fritillary  is bright orange with numerous black
branched spines.

The Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar-Photo Credit Lorna Bravo, UF/IFAS Extension

What is the secret to their visit?

Plant the alluring Purple passionflower, Passiflora incarnata, Corky stem Passion-flower, Passiflora suberosa or Yellow Passion-flower, Passiflora lutea in your garden, and the orange belle butterflies called Gulf Fritillaries appears.

Educate on Host plant for Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Corky stem Passion-Flower- Photo Credit Lorna Bravo, UF/IFAS Extension

 

The Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Full Life Cycle

Watch this fascinating video of the complete life cycle of the Gulf Fritillary butterfly created by UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Master Gardener Volunteer Amy Rielly. Understand what the eggs look like, the caterpillars, and the adult butterfly stage to be able to identify them in your landscape. The video has extra footage of its full life cycle and signature colors as it grows.

Gulf Fritillary Full Life Cycle photo Credit Amy Rielly & Lorna Bravo UF/IFAS Extension

Do you want to invite this beauty into your yard? Provide for Wildlife

Learn about our Florida-Friendly Landscaping program and its nine principles. As urban areas rapidly increase worldwide, our urban yards are the first defense line preserving Florida’s fragile environment. Invite native plants in your yard. If you plant them, they will come. Plant nectar sources. Select plants with seeds, fruit, flowers, or berries. Contact our Broward Extension office for a list of plants you can invite in your yard to support wildlife and consider recognizing your yard as a Florida-Friendly Landscape.

Join our virtual UF/IFAS Extension in Broward County Art in The Garden Event happening Nov 6th to Dec 6th, 2021. We will have Florida-Friendly butterfly plants available for South Florida residents.

You can place your orders here: https://2021-art-in-the-garden.eventbrite.com/

Water Color Drawings created by Lorna Bravo UF/IFAS Extension Broward County

Interested to have your yard recognized as a Florida-Friendly Landscape?

The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ (FFL) program is an educational outreach program informing homeowners and professionals how they can be more environmentally friendly with their landscape care practices. Since 1994, FFL has served Florida as a partnership between the University of Florida, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension (UF/IFAS Extension), and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program’s mission is to educate Floridians about science-based, environmentally friendly landscaping practices and encourage them to conserve and protect our water resources by applying its nine principles. Recognizing the home landscape as part of a more extensive natural system will help us make sound decisions in creating a Florida-Friendly yard and help protect Florida’s natural environment for future generations. Interested to have your landscape recognized under the nine FFL principles? You can watch our local Broward County FFL presentation here: Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ in Urban Environments – YouTube

Contact UF/IFAS Extension Broward County Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program.

Email: Lorna Bravo lbravo1@ufl.edu or  Anthony Gross @anthony.gross@ufl.edu.

Resources

You can read more about The Gulf Fritillary butterfly and host plants here:

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