The Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

As you know from earlier posts, we have a passionflower plant growing above one of the gates to the backyard and patio. It is a Passiflora parritae x tarminiana‘Oaklandia’ that we purchased from Annies Annuals

I knew that passionflower plants attract butterflies, but only recently learned that this is the only host plant for Gulf Fritillary butterflies. Before I learned this, we observed Gulf Fritillary butterflies spending a lot of time around the vine.

You can imagine how thrilled I was to discover this Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on the vine three weeks ago. It was about 1 1/2 inches long. Look at the bright orange stripes on the dark green body. You can see surrounding it the leaves it munched on.

Two days later the caterpillar was moving around the side of the gate.

That evening it was in the "j" position, having woven a silken, durable pad to support itself.

The next day it had morphed into a chrysalis.

So strange looking. It almost looks like a dried up leaf, nothing like the beautiful jade green chrysalis of the monarch butterfly.

The chrysalis is still there, and can take about three weeks until the butterfly ecloses.

Any day now....

During the daylight hours the chrysalis moves!

We thought we were imaging this but it is what the chrysalis does - during the day it moves to a horizontal position with the bottom tip pointing out toward the light, and in the evening it moves back to point horizontally in toward the wall.

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