Variegated Fritillary Eggs!

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)April 12, 2011

While I was out working in my garden today, I saw a variegated frit flying close to the ground outside my garden. I checked the new growth on the passionvines that grow on the picket fence around my house, and bingo! I finally got VF eggs again! Before the hurricane in 2005, they used to leave me eggs on my passionvines early each spring, then use the violets when the gulf frits had taken over the passis. I haven't checked violets, but there are plenty of them in my garden, growing at the base of other plants.

I'm so excited - it's been so long!

I got a picture of one of them - it's not very good, but, as I recall, I never could get a good, unblurry picture of a variegated frit egg -


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jrcagle(z7 MD)

How exciting! Hoping for some on my violets this year.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 4:12PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I hope you do, too, Jeff!
I went back outside, saw a palamedes swallowtail flitting around a young redbay or swampbay - I can never tell them apart - so I went to see if there were any eggs there. Didn't find any eggs, but a hatchling was on a new leaf - YAY!
I also saw a butterfly flying low to the ground that looked like a pearl crescent from where I stood - I never did get a good look at it. It might have been an American lady, but it appeared to be too small, also the coloring wasn't right. I planted out some rice button asters this year, and I'd just LOVE to find PC cats. I've never seen even one.
I also think I saw the first giant swallowtail of the year, again, too far off for me to be sure. It may have been a palamedes swallowtail - from a distance, they look very similar. I'll be checking my giant swallowtail host plants, though.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 5:24PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Congrats, Miss Sherry! I know how much you've wanted these butterflies. I saw my first VF today, but it wasn't in my backyard. I visited a friend's place. She has 3 acres and a creek. I'm struggling not to covet!! She needs help with getting some plants going--so I will do what I can. She's on disability.

Anyway, WTG!! It looks like a good BF year so far.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 6:09PM
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Gratz the eggs dont look nothing like GF I sure wish we got the fritillarys here never see them but the GF I saw around 10 all chasing each other today they even chase my only black swallowtail off hehehehe

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 7:02PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I've been out in the garden, planting out the dill plants that the black swallowtails ate. I've planted them underneath shrubs and other shady garden spots to increase the chances they can survive the heat here.
My Mama variegated frit was out there checking out the host plants, laying some more eggs, and nectaring, mostly on the new scarlet/coral colored zinnias -

I also got a picture of the tiny hatchling palamedes cat on a small redbay -


    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 3:53PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

Love the photos! The passionvine is popping up everywhere here. I expect the VFs will be along soon. Love the little Palamedes cat--don't get those here. Isn't this a great year!!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2011 at 3:57PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

A hardy congrats on the VF eggs Sherry! Wow. That is one cool looking chrysalis they make, isn't it? I can understand why you'd covet them!!!~~Angie

    Bookmark   April 14, 2011 at 8:55AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Yes, they sometimes make a beautiful chrysalis, but usually, at least for me, they make a brown and white one.
I've been looking for hatchling cats and couldn't find any. I found what appears to be a hatchling up in the new growth leaf fold of my Indigo Dreams passionvine! Indigo Dreams is a hybrid of P. Incense and P. caerulea, so if this is indeed a VF cat, it's the first time I've ever found one on anything other than P. incarnata or common violets. I kept looking at some other P. incarnatas and finally found a TINY little cat. Variegated frits are so good at hiding, I usually don't find them until they're in their 3rd or 4th instar.
Can you see the tiny little hatchling?


    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 4:52PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I found two VF cats on some common violets in my garden - combined with the ones I already found, that brings the total to six. One of the violet cats moved over to the passionvine that the other ones were eating, the other one has stuck to violets.
Here's a picture of a violet cat, taken last yesterday afternoon -


    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 3:20PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I meant "late" yesterday afternoon - duh!


    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 3:33PM
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Miss Sherry;
That is so exciting. What a great caterpillar! Nice pics too.

Do you know what type of violet you have there? I would like to find a key for violets. I guess the non-native sweet violet is toxic to frits. I thought I would be able to tell them apart easily but now I don't know...

I have my first V. frits last year. I found some late instar on a P. incarnata. I was sooo excited. They made the lovely pearly white and gold chrysalises too. So, pretty! We probably won't have them this year as we are off to a bad start..cold and


    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 4:06PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

It's just a common, heart-shaped leaf, purple-flowering violet, Elisabeth. The scientific name could be V. floridana (MS wildflower book) or V. rosacea (LA wildflower book)or V. papillionacea (AL wildflower book) - there are many different names for what looks like the same plant.
We also have a white-flowering violet, V. primulifolia, that they have never used. The leaves are sort of corrugated, sort of like seersucker, and they apparently are chemically different from the purple ones.
I let violets grow under all the shrubs in my garden, plus my blueberry bushes. I think they're pretty, and they're used off and on by variegated frits.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 6:59PM
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I have violets growing wild in my yard, but I'm not sure if they're the toxic non-native one. I have a new passionvine, though, so if I ever do get caterpillars on it, I'll have to see if they'll eat the violets I have growing wild. Miss Sherry, how do you find your frit caterpillars? I've heard they are nocturnal as caterpillars. Do they leave obvious damage on the violets as a sort of giveaway?

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 9:18PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

They're VERY hard to find in the early instars, managing to hide until they get into the middle instars at least. The only reason I found these is I saw the Mama, so I checked for eggs on the passionvines. I didn't find the violet cats until the middle (or late) instars, which is typical - I didn't look for eggs on the violets, because they're crowded in hard to see spots. Maybe if my violets grew singly, the damage would be obvious, but mine grow in large groups under shrubs, and violets sprout new growth after being eaten very quickly, so I never see any damage.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2011 at 11:36PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

All the variegated frits have made their chrysalis except one, that came from a late-laid egg. For whatever reason, I never got a picture of a regular VF chrysalis, just the white ones I was lucky enough to get one time.
This is what variegated frit chrysalides normally look like here, still pretty to me -


    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:12PM
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Beautiful! Great photo too! :D

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 12:57AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

All the VFs have made their chrysalis except one, and it's in the "J" - I found several more little cats since I last posted.
Several have emerged and been released, and they've all flown out of the cage and traveled farther than just the trees and shrubs in the front yard, so I couldn't get a nice picture of them on a plant. Two emerged this morning, so when the first one took off out of sight, I decided to go ahead and take a picture of one in the cage. Butterflies are so beautiful when they first emerge, no tatters, and VIVID, dark coloring -


    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:42PM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

should have searched for my answer before creating a new thread. Yep the top picture is what I have. YAY!!!!

(PS Sandy - after this week's hot weather, I finally have a few sprouts of my passion vine coming up.) I guess it had to get hotter for them. I've still planted the ones you gave me - I'm grateful to have more!)


    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 10:05AM
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rickinla(8B SW AL)

Sherry, send some of those Frits over my way. I've send very few butterflies of any kind and no Fritillaries at all. My Passion Vines are growing and blooming like crazy but there's nothing to eat them. I had tons of Gulf Fritillaries last year, nothing so far this year.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 9:47PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

This is just so exciting to me! Congrats on the VF's! I just love to read your stories and see your butterfly pics Sherry.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 12:51PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Thanks, Angie!

Rick, we've been having a much below normal butterfly year here, too. I haven't seen any variegated frits this year, either.
I also haven't seen any palamedes swallowtails lately (which makes me wonder about ambrosia beetles and the red bay kill off) or black swallowtails or monarchs. I've seen at least two female tiger swallowtails recently, and they hanging around the woods with that "I'm laying eggs look" but I don't find many of their eggs/cats - most are laid too high up.

I do have two spicebush swallowtail cats, plus two red-spotted purples, with five more eggs on the little cherry tree that I'll be getting soon. And I just released a cloudless sulphur (undoubtedly a female, many spots and red edge) that came from a pretty pink chrysalis, so butterflies aren't completely gone here, but they're scarcer than I can ever remember it. Between the rainy, cool spring and all the logging around here, things just aren't the same.

There are plenty of checkered skippers and normal numbers of the various types of sulphurs, but they use 'weeds', not trees.
I'm protecting those I find, though - it's more important than ever to keep from feeding those predators!


    Bookmark   June 17, 2013 at 1:20PM
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