- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Ever seen a Gulf Fritillary butterfly laying an egg?
The Gulf Frit (Agraulis vanillae), an orangish-reddish butterfly of the family Nymphalidae, lays its eggs on its host plant, Passiflora.
When you see its silver-spangled underwings, you may think there are two different butterflies. In the photo below, it's laying eggs on the tendrils of the passionflower vine.
It first appeared in California in the vicinity of San Diego in the 1870s, according to noted butterfly researcher Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. He's been monitoring the butterflies of central California for four decades and provides information on his website at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu.
From San Diego, “it spread through Southern California in urban settings and was first recorded in the Bay Area about 1908," says Shapiro. "It became a persistent breeding resident in the East and South Bay in the 1950s and has been there since.”
Shapiro says it “apparently bred in the Sacramento area and possibly in Davis in the 1960s, becoming extinct in the early 1970s, then recolonizing again throughout the area since 2000.”
We never tire of seeing them. Especially the silver-spangled underwings!