What Do Fritillary Caterpillars Eat?

Downy Yellow Violet photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Fritillary Butterfly are those Brushfoot butterflies that come in oranges, browns and black. Most of us know and love Gulf frits, Great Spangled frits, Variegates frits, Aphrodite frits, Silver bordered frits, Meadow frits and Regal frits, if you’re east of the Mississippi River.

Now that I’m relocated to Georgia, the fritillary butterflies here mostly deposit their eggs on Passionflower vines, easy to grow Southern garden favorites. Passionflower also attracts other butterflies, including Zebra heliconians.

The most common hostplant for Fritillary butterflies comes as something of a surprise, and are in most gardens. Fritillary butterflies mostly lay their eggs on violets. it still seems incongruous, that their caterpillar hatch on and feed upon these tiny little plants, present in the early Spring, and not so much as 4″ above the soil.

Shown here are Downy Yellow Violets, that I spotted in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Holli and Leslie would surely have me remind you, urge you, to please delay your annual leaf raking of your lawns, until mid-Spring. Why? Because Fritillary caterpillars spend the winter as chrysalises each with a rolled leaf around them, right there in the leaf drop sitting on your lawn. Rake your lawns in October/November, and you may be removing (killing) dozens of Fritillary cats, they, awaiting the onset of Spring weather.

Jeff

 

Does She Hear?

Painted Lady Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

In the field, during those early years of seeking butterflies, I always became silent when I sought to make my approach. Silence ruled until I finished shooting, and only then would I talk. Some 10 years or so later, I abandoned that, and now I will speak to you, in normal voice, while I am at my usual 18″ away from a butterfly. One in 20 butterflies appear to flee when I begin talking to you. Nineteen of 20 do not react to my speaking.

This fresh, gorgeous American Lady butterfly riveted my attention, and on my approach, on that gravely road in Raccoon Creek State Park (southwestern Pennsylvania). I placed my feet down as gently as I could as I got closer to her (presuming this is a female), knowing that she could easily sense the vibrations I produced on the trail. She fled several times, alway flying in a lazy loop, to return within about 3-4 minutes. I was patient, and got this.

Some months ago, I recall reading something about butterflies, it sharing that they can hear. Can they?

We are a large enough group to expect that you can weigh in here, and share on whether or not butterflies can hear?

Jeff

Peru? Bolivia?

Close Up of Pipevine Swallowtail  Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it perched on Bergamot flower at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 7/31/14

Life sure has a way of intruding on your plans. Paul’s brother Fred dazzled me with anecdotes of his studies in the interior of Bolivia and Peru. He’s an academic, and travelled there to pursue birds. The things that he found, leave you speechless. Birds and butterflies of almost indescribable beauty and mystery. His telling of the dangers that he confronted chastened me, for after the streets of Brooklyn, thank you, I do not want to be one of the poor souls who are in a bus the goes over the side of a cliff, on one of those unimproved mountain roads!

Me? I’m very happy to travel here in the U.S.A to more predictable destinations, like this one. Doak field in Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania. Imagine us there, with Bergamot blooms blanketing this enormous meadow, as a Pipevine swallowtail butterfly floats in. The pipevine is anxious for the rich sugary nectar of the Bergamot. Distracted, I cautiously move in closer, and what I see there, erases my thoughts of Peruvian rain forests, their ferocious mosquitoes, the very real threat of being ambushed/kidnapped ( my son was kidnapped there, and Thank G-d he and Rene were released unharmed ), or caught in the middle of a firefight in Lima, between army and rebels.

America is a butterfly magnet, and for good reason. My Fuji slide film shoots color real-time, and this year, I hope to please you with butterflies of much beauty, amidst green foliage that is honest in its share of green.

Jeff

My Most Viewed Butterfly?

This female Easter Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly remains one of my viewed wingedbeauty images, ever. Taken at Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, some nine hours west of the Empire State Building in New York City.

One of my most viewed ever.

Do be so kind as to share with me. Why have so many of you taken the time to have a look at this particular butterfly?

Jeff

My, What Big Eyes You Have

Little wood satyr butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Miss this one too. It’s been some time since I’ve seen a Little Wood Satyr. Now relocated to the southeast, what I see are dozens and dozens of Carolina Satyr butterflies. With all respect to the Carolina satyrs, they cannot boast the oversized ‘eyes’ that this one sports. Little Wood Satyrs also give pause for a smile, as the bound about the forest edge with their near ridiculous flight, bouncing, bobbing and weaving.

They mean no harm, seem to be purposeful and give those of us who frequent those trails from Maine to Florida, North Dakota to Texas, sweet thoughts and quizzical looks. How the heck do they roam about the forest perimeter, carefree, when there are so many predators and predicaments just waiting for them?

I love Little Wood Satyrs and their Big ‘eyes’ and chocolate stripes. We are overdue, we are.

Jeff