Gulf Fritillary

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Gulf fritillary, Agraulis vanillae,
photographed at Smith Point Hawkwatch, Texas.
Image: Joseph Kennedy, 7 October 2006 [larger view].

About GrrlScientist

grrlscientist is the pseudonym of an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist who writes about evolution, ethology, and ecology, especially in birds. After earning a degree in microbiology (thesis focus: virology) and working at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, she earned her PhD in zoology from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she studied the molecular correlates of testosterone and behaviour in white-crowned sparrows. She then worked a Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where she studied the speciation and distribution of lories and other parrots throughout the South Pacific Islands. A discarded scientist, she returned to her roots: writing. Formerly hosted by The Guardian (UK), she now writes about science for Forbes and for the non-profit think tank, the Evolution Institute and she writes podcasts for BirdNote Radio. An avid lifelong birder and aviculturist, she lives with a flock of songbirds and parrots somewhere in Germany.
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0 Responses to Gulf Fritillary

  1. Jim Thomerson says:

    In spite of my best efforts, Gulf fritillary caterpillars have pretty well destroyed my native passion flower vines.

  2. MightyMu says:

    I apologize for posting this completely-unrelated-to-the-post link, but I thought you’d like it:
    A gorgeous shot of a Common Kingfisher, from’s “Big Picture” blog. ( ) Enjoy!

  3. Barn Owl says:

    I have that same problem, Jim, and I don’t want to dust the vine for fear of killing the honeybees that visit the remaining flowers. My passionflower vine also participates in shading the air conditioning unit on the back of my house, so I really rather resent it when the caterpillars destroy it. The vine recovers from the caterpillar onslaught each year, but looks terrible in the interim.

  4. biosparite says:

    I would recommend using some other type of vine for shading or decoration. The Gulf Fritillary is abundant and widespread. I see individuals in Houston and in Atlanta. Passiflora is the host plant, so if you have Passifloras, you will have Gulf Frit. caterpillars. They are such a joy to see wafting by on their broad wings that I consider it a privilege to have any plant around that attracts them.Passifloras are not without defenses: they have nectaries that attract ants which provide defense in exchange for sugary sap. I have watched female Gulf Fritillaries in Houston lay their eggs on grass stems near Passifloras; it would appear this is a stratagem to give the eggs a chance to hatch without an ant attack. After hatching, the caterpillars move to the Passiflora.

  5. Heather says:

    Oooooooh, I love that photo! So beautiful!