- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Nature isn't perfect, but neither are we!
Today we watched a Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) laying eggs on her host plant, the passionflower vine (Passiflora) and another Gulf Fritillary nectaring on the nearby Jupiter's Beard (Centranthus ruber). Ms. Gulf Frit looked quite discolored; she wasn't that showy orange butterfly that we're accustomed to seeing, but she was a good egg layer. She deposited eggs all over the Passiflora within a five-minute time spanm and then returned to lay more eggs.
A warm springlike day. A perfect day. A not-so-perfect butterfly.
Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis who has studied the butterfly population in Central California for more than four decades (see his website) says that the discoloration is "probably developmental rather than genetic."
"Rear some eggs," he says, and "see if anything odd results. These depigmentized bugs are seldom so symmetrical. Under a scope the depigmentized scales may be curly."
Time to rear some eggs and see what develops!
(Editor's Note: The UC Food Observer blog today featured Bug Squad. We are humbled!)