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The not so lucky Gulf Fritillary caterpillars

Yesterday I posted the life cycle of a Gulf Fritillary caterpillar, the first one we spotted on the passionflower vine. It is currently still in chrysalis mode and may eclose any day now.

A few days after the caterpillar morphed into its chrysalis stage, we noticed two little ones on the same vine. These two were 1/2 inch long when we first saw them.

They munched on the vine leaves near the top of the gate, and slowly grew bigger.

Look at the black spines on that caterpillar in the image above.

The caterpillars, with their voracious appetites, seemed very happy, enjoying the sunny days.

You can see the silhouette of the second caterpillar, curled on the leaf.

They grew to about an inch long within a week's time.

One afternoon we saw one of these two caterpillars slowly crawling along the side of the garden gate. It was too small to start to morph into a chrysalis, so we assumed it was just out exploring.

We never saw it again.

The next day when I looked up at the vine in the area the caterpillars liked to be, there was a tragic sight. No caterpillars moving around.

Instead just half of a caterpillar was on a leaf, and it looked partly smashed.

Either a bird or wasp must have killed and eaten part of the caterpillar.

The Gulf Fritillary butterflies are constantly flitting through our backyard, because of the nectar sources there. Among many other plants we have butterfly bushes and lantana growing there.

Hopefully they will lay more eggs around the passionflower vine.

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