Great Spangled Frits - I need more violets

christie_sw_mo(Z6)July 26, 2012

I don't think I've ever seen more than one GST at a time in my garden until this summer. I've been seeing three or four when I go out to check my flowers all summer.

They're quite a bit larger than Variegated or Gulf Frits. In fact, they're bigger than most Swallowtails.

Has anyone ever tried to raise them? says: "Eggs are laid in late summer on or near host violets. Newly-hatched caterpillars do not feed, but overwinter until spring, when they eat young violet leaves".

How strange that they hatch out but don't eat until spring. An how in the world could something so tiny survive through the winter!

Sounds like they would be tricky to raise but I'd really like to.

It took me awhile to get a photo next to a Gulf Frit where they both have their wings open so you can see the size. This is one of the biggest ones I've seen. The zinnias that they're on are fairly similar in height although it looks like the GST is closer to the camera. I don't think it was.

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NaturesFolly(West MI 5)

I cant help you with your question but just wanted to say.....This is a beautiful image!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 12:18PM
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monkeybelle(7A NJ (Camden County))

Gorgeous picture!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 12:42PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

What a beautiful picture, Christie! I sure wish I got great-spangled frits, they're awesome!

If I were you, I'd just plant/transplant as many violets - they probably prefer common violets? - as I could into my garden. I did that for variegated frits, and I think they look nice growing at the base of the taller plants. Then, when spring comes, you could start looking for caterpillars, which you could raise yourself, I suppose - I'd never try to overwinter tiny cats myself. I've never investigated how to raise them, but it would be a great project for you, if you could find some cats!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 4:12PM
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WOW!!! Beautiful picture!
I want some!!! ;o(
Wish we got them here in North Texas as I have a ton of light blue violets that I've been moving they could use! I also have dark purple ones as well! They are taking over a bed that I need to amend that I'm going to plant the A.fimbriata seeds that Mechelle is so generously sharing with us!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 6:29PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Very pretty pic! Such lovely Zinnias and butterflies. :0)

I observed a Great spangled frit laying eggs on the violets in a semi-wild garden bed in the back gardens last fall. It was early October. There are lots of violets, most Viola sororia both purple and white, that grow amongst the native perennials all together in a completely naturalized mish mash in that bed.

The female was crawling through the violets, laying eggs. Collected 3 eggs, which are kind of yellowish, but then read that they overwinter as a 1st instar. I had no idea how to overwinter them properly, so I took the eggs back out to the violets where they had been laid - figured they had a better chance out in the wild.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 9:32PM
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lily55rjw(5 Northern Michigan)

Great picture! Are you in need of violets? I have quite a few...

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 12:01AM
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I do need more violets Lily but I want to try to figure out what I could plant in my garden that wouldn't spread into my yard. I feel bad when I mow. : ( I'd like to find something that grows in one big leafy clump and stays there. Is there such a thing?

I have a few in my lawn but don't know what kind they are. They volunteered. I think I will do as Sherry said and transplant them to my garden and then check them next spring for cats. Are violets aggressive enough to choke out other perennials?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 7:00AM
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Christie, I wonder if they would chow on Pansies. You would winter sow or direct sow some seeds of either or both in containers that would not be put in the ground to spread around. One thought is to use those aluminum baking pans with the plastic lids. Set them on plastic trash bags so the roots don't grow into the ground. That would get you some little plants with tender leaves for them to use.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 7:12AM
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I'v read that frits will ue Johnny-jump-ups, the kind of violet you can also buy in the store. I have what I believe to be the normal Common Violet (V. sororia) growing in my garden, and yes, they do spread quite aggressivey, but I've alway found them to be really easy to dig up and move/dispose of when they get out of line. ;) I plan on sowing some Bird-foot violet (Viola pedata) seeds this fall; you might look into those, as a few sources say they are not as aggressive as V. sororia.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 6:55PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

My violets don't choke out other things, Chrstie, don't get too thick, just sort of fit in. They grow taller and make bigger leaves than they do in the lawn, but I guess that's because when I fertilize or water, they get the spill over. They like shade, so planting them in the shade of your plants will work out. The biggest problem I have with them is keeping them, since rabbits get into my garden and eat them down to the nubs. I may have actually had variegated frit eggs this year and never knew it, because they wound up in the stomach of a rabbit. :(
I asked what type the great spangles like, because variegated frits have never laid eggs on the other type of violet that grows here, V. primulifolia, a white-flowering type.
A lot of people seem to be wary of common violets, but they've worked out very well here, except for being rabbit food!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 10:53AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have lots of Viola sororia (both purple and white forms) and V. pubescens (yellow downy violet) growing wildish through the gardens in back. They do grow into the lawn somewhat, but they aren't terrible. They grow well and look pretty as an "understory" plant under taller perennials.

I tried to WS Viola pedata last year, with no luck, although this seed might need more cold stratification than it received (i.e. sow in the fall instead of winter).

MissSherry, I wish the rabbits would eat the dang violets instead of the Liatris seedlings, which they have the uncanny ability to find in a large garden bed amongst many other plants!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 4:04AM
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