Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

(Agraulis vanillae)

The Gulf Fritillary:

Is primarily a tropical butterfly that extends its range temporarily each summer into some of the northern states.

It is now established in parts of California and Hawaii.

It is on the wing throughout the year in the Deep south, and from spring to fall farther north.

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

It is characterized by its distinctive long wings and their contrasting upper and lower patterns.

The Fritillary larvae can be raised in captivity, and the butterfly itself is easy to attract to your gardens since its host plant is in common garden use in much of the butterfly's range.

Be sure to release your butterflies once they hatch.


This Fritillary is orange above, with parallel black lines running vertically on the wings.

Its underside is mostly brownish, with numerous silver spots.

From wing to wing, it measures 2 to 3 inches.


This species of butterfly can be found in, fields, parks, roadsides and other open areas.

Pastures, open fields, second-growth subtropical forest and edges, city as well as country gardens.


Sometimes mass emigrations of this butterfly occur throughout its range.

This Fritillary is a rapid flier.

Gulf Fritillary Larvae

Larvae and Hosts:

Males patrol for females, who lay eggs on many parts of the host plant. Caterpillars feed on most parts of the host. Adults overwinter in the south.

Various species of passion vine (Passiflora) are the principal host plants for these butterflies.

The larvae are mostly black, with red stripes and numerous black spines running down the body.

The larva or caterpillar of the Gulf Fritillary grows to approximately 4 cm (1.6 in) in length.

Larvae are poisonous if eaten, as the bright coloration advertises. The larvae feed exclusively on species of passion flower such as Maypop (Passiflora incarnata), Yellow Passionflower (P. lutea) and Running Pop (P. foetida). Their toxic flesh provides the with excellent protection from predators.

Many birds avoid them.

Nectar Plants:

Lantana (Lantana), impatiens (Impatiens), Shepherd's needle (Bidens), thistle (Cirsium).

Be sure to offer water in your gardens, for your butterflies and other wildlife.

Gulf Fritillary and other Common butterflies

More Valuable Information on Butterflies

A Butterfly Friendly Yard

Build Your Own Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Flower and Host Plants

Offer Fresh Water for All your Wildlife

Create a Wildlife Habitat in Your Backyard

Butterflies, Birds, Gardens and More.

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