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Plant Purple Passionflower Vine for Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Purple passionflower

Purple passionflower

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars have a voracious appetite for purple passionflower vine Passiflora incarnata!  This native vine is a host for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Agraulis vanilla larvae, is easy to grow, and readily available in garden centers.

Like any other vine, it grows quickly and may spread across your garden, so keep this in mind when choosing a location.  It prefers full sun, is drought tolerant, adapts to many soil types, and should be given support for twining tendrils.  Purple passionflower has intricate purple flowers that are followed by the fruit called a maypop, which is another common name for this vine.

Gulf fritillary butterflies are primarily orange with some black and white markings.  They prefer sunny areas and adults will feed on nectar from many different flowering plants.  However, they are more specific about where they will lay eggs because the diet of the caterpillar is more selective than adults.

If you have purple passionflower in your landscape, look for tiny yellow eggs and orange caterpillars with black spikes to see if you have a backyard Gulf fritillary nursery.  Plants may be totally defoliated by the hungry caterpillars, but healthy plants can tolerate the damage and should flush back out without difficulty.


2 Comments on “Plant Purple Passionflower Vine for Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

  1. if I plant this purple passionflower….will caterpillars start eating my tomatoes and green bell peppers. Thanks John Nelson

  2. Hi John,
    Butterflies are rather specific about where they lay eggs and which plants their larvae (caterpillars) will feed on. For the Gulf Fritillary, the passionflower vine is the preferred larval host. I would not expect having this plant in your garden would have any direct effect on the number of caterpillars that would target tomatoes and peppers.

    If you would like to learn more about pests that are more specific to tomatoes and peppers, please see the following publication at “Insect Management for Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant”