A gulf fritillary butterfly feeding on a white passionflower.
Gulf Fritillaries can be seen in flight all year in south Florida and all except December northward. The range of Agraulis vanillae is from South America north through Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies to the southern United States, occassionally wandering into the central United States.
The adult butterfly is mostly brownish-orange with black markings on the upperside. There are three white spots surrounded by black near the leading edge of the forewing from about the midpoint towards the base. The undersides of the wings are lighter, with the hindwings and tips of the forewings covered with silvery spots. Females are larger and paler than the males.
The caterpillar is orange with rows of black spines. Caterpillar hosts are various species of passion vine, including white passionflower, as seen here with an adult butterfly nectaring.
This white form of Passiflora incarnata is a rare naturally occurring native in Florida and the eastern United States. They are similar to the more common purple passionflower, except that the flowers are pure white.
(Subject description from the artist's Wild Florida Photo website www.wildflphoto.com)
January 29th, 2018
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