Gulf fritillary butterfly on blue porterweed, Dallas, Texas — photo by Ed Darrell — use free with attribution
A gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae (Linnaeus, 1758)) on blue porterweed, Stachytarpheta urticifolia, also known as blue rats tail, or nettleleaf velvetberry. Dallas, Texas, August 9, 2010.
This fritillary hung around for a few minutes.
Kathryn plants butterfly-attracting plants — a concept that was new to me when she introduced it at our home in Cheverly, Maryland, with several plants that acted like butterfly magnets, to my astonished delight. We first ran into the brilliant orange gulf fritillaries in 1988 or 1989 here in Dallas. For the past few summers, fritillaries have not been frequent visitors in our yard.
Kathryn stepped up the butterfly plantings this spring, including passion vine (Passiflora incarnata). The passion vine twines toward one of the bird feeders, but in the past week or so has been losing leaves — to caterpillars of the gulf fritillary, it turns out. Blue porterweed attracts all sorts of butterflies, but the fritillaries have been rather common, no doubt hoping to give their progeny a little boost with the passion vine, their favored food.
Butterfly afficianadoes in Dallas are urged to plant milkweed and butterfly bush to help the monarchs, whose populations are stressed by the recent cold winter, dramatic reductions in habitat, and destruction of their sanctuary trees in Mexico where they migrate each winter. But all butterflies could use some habitat help, I think. The rewards are great.
Gulf fritillary on blue porterweed, catching the morning sun
Butterfly plantings will attract butterflies, guaranteed. Gulf fritillary enjoys some blue porterweed nectar.