Standing tall and proud, this Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, is a butterfly master and commander.
At a different angle, this wings-up wanderer rested early one chilly morning, taking a rare break in its constant search for food and a mate. Breezy north gusts rendered tricky, this capturing of the butterfly’s calm.
Nevertheless, it posed, still and quiet, for the shot.
The bloom has-beens in the photos are those of Plateau goldeneye, Viguiera dentata, a member of the Aster, Asteraceae, family of plants, a favorite nectar source for adult Gulf Fritillaries.
I didn’t witness this particular butterfly nectaring that particular morning, but there are plenty of adult Gulf Fritillaries in my garden right now, resting on plants, and also flying and nectaring. On warm afternoons this one and its kin are working the remaining blooms of Plateau goldeneye, Tropical sage, Salvia coccinea, and occasionally, Forsythia sage, Salvia madrensis.
This past season there was a dearth of these dearies. Eventually, I figured out that the juvenile stage of the butterfly (caterpillars or larvae) were being parasitized by the local wasps, a common butterfly predator. At some point, the cycle shifted: too few of the larvae, in turn, decreased the population of the wasps. Without the interference of the wasps, the butterfly larvae completed their cycle: they morphed, mated, and once again, adults are in the garden.
I’m not complaining. It’s lovely to see the orange beauties decorating the garden in January.
My Blue Passionflower vine, Passiflora caerulea, currently looks a mess because there are, or recently have been, larvae munching on the leaves. The adults which have emerged will likely remain active until we get a hard freeze, if that happens. And even if that happens, it’s a guarantee that some, if not most, of the butterflies will weather the freeze in fine form, ready to rebound in spring.
Butterflies are, or should be, part of a garden’s vignette, so today, I’m joining with Anna and her Wednesday Vignette. Pop over to Flutter and Hum for other garden vignette and musings of various sorts.