I only wish they wouldn’t devour my Passion Fruit Vine. Passiflora is the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary, the orange and black butterfly in the picture. These are common in south Florida. There are 4 cycles in the life-cycle of a butterfly:
- Egg – laid by a female butterfly on the plant. A caterpillar will eventually emerge from the egg and eat the leaf or part of the plant it is on.
- Larva – this is what’s commonly referred to as a Caterpillar (the critter that chows down on the leaves & other parts of the host plant).
- Pupa – after the Caterpillar reaches its full weight/length it attaches itself to a leaf and forms a pupa (chrysalis). This is where the caterpillar will begin changing, growing its’ wings, etc.
- Adult – once the caterpillar has finished all of its changes in the pupa, it emerges as a butterfly. Within hours it will begin to fly, feed and look for a mate to reproduce. If it’s a female, it will lay eggs on a host plant, which will begin the cycle once again.
Butterflies are pollinators though they are less efficient at moving pollen between flowers than bees are. They don’t pick up as much pollen on their legs and bodies. This week is National Pollinator Week. For some interesting research and other information about pollinators you can visit Environmental Protection Agency-Pollinator Week