Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar photographed by Jeff Zablow at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, GA

It’s August and this Agraulis vanillae caterpillar is right on schedule. Satiated and secure in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. No stresses to manage. No family tensions, no TV, no texting, no horrendous news of the bloody battles going on in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria. This one is just doing what Gulf frit caterpillars have done since who knows when?

Their hostplants are abundant here. Passionflower vines are found along the many canals of this one-time  rice farm, now National Wildlife Refuge. At the South Carolina – Georgia line.

Me, I was covered. Yep, covered in OFF insect repellant! It was a fresh batch of OFF! the woodland variety, and I was like an aircraft carrier during the Pacific campaign in WWII. Swarms of enemy above me, in this case, more than one species of mosquito. You don’t see our friend here being stalked, because not a single arthropod could be seen harassing it. Does anyone out there know why Gulf fritillary caterpillars possess such protecia? 

What pleasure it must afford these caterpillars, knowing that more than likely they will survive the metamorphosis to adulthood and they will be among the most beautiful winged beauties of all.


N.B., I did once see an adult Gulf fritillary in Pittsburgh, in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory. You just never know!

2 thoughts on “Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar

  1. Last year, I had tons of gulf fritillaries adults and cats covering the passionflower vines along the dike forming one of my ponds here in Athens, GA. I was just out looking at it a few minutes ago and there nothing: No adults, no larvae. I did see one adult in our flower gardens last week. Maybe due to all the rain we’ve had this season? I’ll keep watching.


  2. Thanks, Jeff. Interesting information about one of my favorite butterflies. One showed up in my flower garden a few days ago. I took a few pictures and finished working on them last night. I hope to post one or more shots on Facebook today.


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