Saturday, December 21, 2013

A SURPRISE AMONG THE LEAVES

I was all ready to show you our beautiful Fall foliage when I got sidetracked by a surprise.
One of my favorite butterflies, the Gulf Fritillary was there looking very much like a colorful leaf.
I see these beautiful, brilliantly marked butterflies flitting about all summer long.
But they usually never let me get very close. Until now.
Here's the little guy resting on my finger. They usually perch on stems with their wings closed. As you can see, the underside is quite remarkable. This is my first time to get a close photo of these exquisite patterns.
The best surprise happened next; he opened his wings!   Due to some heavy rains and cooler weather, this little guy was worn out. He was in no hurry to leave my arm.
Notice the small silver spots. These are the best identifiers for Agraulis vanillae or as we say, the Gulf Fritillary. If you see a similar orange butterfly with no markings, it's a Julia (Dryas iulia).
They are a wide ranging butterfly and can be seen in many parts of the U.S.
I have a lot of nectar plants for butterflies, but don't grow the host plant. It's a native vine called Passiflora incarnata. It's one of our most exotic looking flowers.
Here's a picture of it at a local nursery.
There are also red varieties of Passiflora, as well as a yellow version called P. lutea.
In the book, Butterflies of Houston, the author states that  females are very picky about their host plants and will avoid the red varieties since they aren't native.
I've also found this to be true.
I still think the leaves are beautiful this season. 
But the one I'll remember most is the one that flew away.

Hope you find some nice surprises in your garden this month.
***
Thanks for stopping by.
David/:0)






12 comments:

  1. That WAS a nice holiday surprise. The gulf fritillary is the most common butterfly in out area (which is not to say that seeing one is an everyday occurrence). I had a passion flower vine for a time at our old house - the caterpillars ate it down to the nubs but I was rewarded with cocoons.

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  2. Beautiful! I like the pictures of the undersides of the wings the most, they look like a shimmery bronze. I went out to take photos for a post the other day and this same thing happened, but I wasn't lucky enough to have it land on me! Very cool.

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  3. I love that butterfly, especially the underside of its wings. I can't imagine having such exotic butterflies which lay their eggs on such gorgeous plants. How very discriminating they are.
    Lovely photos.
    Chloris

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  4. I am glad to see you have some Gulf Fritillarys. I used to have a yard full of them and the last few years there have been almost no butterflies of any kind.

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  5. They are beautiful, I've noticed quite a few butterflies sticking around in spite of the early cold weather.

    Happy Holidays David!

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  6. Gulf frits are one of my favorites! Nice spot!

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  7. This butterfly is stunning. As with most other butterflies, the underside can be dramatically different from the upper side. The passiflora is exotic. I had the red variety.

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  8. Oh, how fun!! What a special moment, and how amazing that you actually were able to photograph it!! Sometimes I ruin a special moment like that by running to get my camera and by the time I get back with my camera the moment is gone. You got to experience it and capture it! Doesn't it just make you feel honored when you can have a special up-close encounter with one of God's beautiful creatures like that :-) Thanks for sharing!! Merry Christmas!

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  9. Wow, what a nice surprise, do you normally have butterflies this late? Lovely photos, I guess you already had your camera next to you, usually my problem when I see butterflies, my camera is always somewhere else! No butterflies here in my London garden anymore, but my Passiflora caerulea is evergreen in my garden and is absolutely huge this year – not sure how I can manage to prune it next spring, will be my headache in a couple of months!

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  10. Such a beautiful surprise! I've seen a couple of frits in the last week or so. If you want passion vine, I'll be happy to pull up some of the umpteen suckers that will doubtless appear in the spring!

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  11. What a wonderful treat! How lucky. :o) Merry Christmas!

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I always appreciate your comments & questions! Happy Gardening from David/ Tropical Texana

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