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

 

That Bothersome Name: Painted Lady

Painted Lady butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Ramat Hanadiv, Israel

I must have seen them all most young life, in not yet all-built Brooklyn, New York, then in Queens, New York and later in Long Island New York. Unlike some, I didn’t own field guides, nor did I work to learn butterfly names, but, I’m sure in saw Painted Lady butterflies those first 2+ decades.

I was in my 50’s when I earnestly went out and sought butterflies. It grabbed me, with the intensity you feel when you begin reading a book that you immediately love, and almost cannot put down. Butterflies provided so much fascination for me, there were so many of them and there’d be no “I did it!.” That could never happen because I knew I’d never have the time or money or inclination to climb rocky peaks to see all of the butterflies of the USA.

Painted Ladies were among my early favorites. They were numerous around the state parks near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and they would always come out to sunny spots on trails to ‘greet’ me. They were my sometimes trail buddies.

Like many brushfoot butterflies, you couldn’t distinguish males from females? Not in the field you couldn’t. That brought up the bothersome thought of the name chosen for these brave butterflies: Painted Lady. How I grew up was you had to be able to “handle yourself” on the streets (give it and take it), cry? never. Someone bothers your brother or sisters, you take care of that. Someone “calls you out” in school, you meet them after school, never within sight of the school building or the schoolyard, and you do what you do. No ‘millennial’ Jeff, you had to be tough, or kind of stay in your house . . .

I’ve thought often of who it was that named the male Painted Ladies such? These Leps are tough little wild animals, and I’ve always thought they never deserved the name that they got. You must forgive me if you have another opinion here. Mine is etched in my brain, vital it was for survival. Mine was not the Father Knows Best childhood.

You  can stop wondering about this handsome Painted Lady. Jeffrey Glassberg cites them as the “planet’s most cosmopolitan butterfly.” Found on every continent, they are all nearly identical. This one was met in Ramat Hanadiv, near the Mediterranean Sea in the HolyLand, Israel.

Jeff

The Perils of Playing Favorites

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Tawny Hackberry butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Just saw a movie last night, Netflix provided “August, Osage County” produced by the Weinstein brothers. Sadder than dirt. Family strife and fracture in the plains of Oklahoma. Much of it featured unfulfilled dreams, childhood abuse and neglect, and  especially the perils of playing favorites.

We worked hard to not ever do that with my 4. I think we did well. I’ve seen the effects of it in extended family and friends and acquaintances, and it pains to see the sadness and misery that it breeds.

Scrolling down our Media Library, I stopped here. Reminded how I so value this image of a Tawny Emperor female. I will  always remember that morning. She was eye-popping, as she rested there in the early morning sun’s first rays. Had never seen the likes of her before. She did not give me the brushoff, but suffered my close approach! I shot, shot, shot and shot, shot, shot, then it struck me. The only reason a beauty like this would remain in place, was . . . she must be ill. Moments later, defying my diagnosis, this Tawny flew, no, better, zoomed away at the speed of one of those new F-35’s.

This image pleases me, reminds me, triggers me to remember, and always treats my eyes to delicious eye-candy. It hangs in my living room, and there are 2 more original prints out there, archivally framed and hanging in homes, and I hope pleasing whomever regularly enjoys them. This is one of my favorites.

Jeff

Little Wood Satyr Butterfly

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

A nice diversion from the larger, flashy swallowtails and brushfoot butterflies . . . the Little Wood Satyr butterfly shuns the open terrain, stays away from wildflower beds.

It spends its time in treed habitat and where woods border on trails and paths. Seek them in May and June. Their numbers are cyclical . . . some years there’s lots of them.

Don’t search for them in your flower beds . . . remember they are found in forest. Don’t wait for them in wildflower beds. They don’t seem to nectar at wildflowers.

Here I was pleased to see that this one had sweet, sweet blue dabbed into its eyespots. Are you able to see the blue in the eyespots?

Which of the following will they enjoy? Rotting fruit or scat or tree sap drip? 

Jeffrey