First Variegated Frit Cat in Several Years!

misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)September 28, 2010

I've seen adulted variegated frits a few times each year since the hurricane (2005) but I've had no cats. In the past, I found a good many of them on my passionvines, usually early in the year before the gulf frits had eaten them down. If I found them later in the year, it was usually on common violets. I thought the obvious reason they used violets later in the year was because of the competition from GFs, but now I'm wondering if there's more to it than that. I've only recently found a dozen GFs, with plenty of passionvine leaves left, including plenty of P. incarnata, their favorite, but I found this one basking in the sunshine on violets in my garden!

We have lots of rabbits and squirrels here, and one or the other of them get in my garden and eat many of the violets to the ground each year, including this year. So I wonder how many variegated frits get eaten in the process? I only found this one - wish there were more!


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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Oh WOW. That is a REALLY cool cat. Looks like a GF on steroids!!! How neat. I am so glad you found one. I don't often see the Variegated Frits come through here. I may see one or two in the whole season.~Angie

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 9:15PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I found another one this afternoon while I was working in my garden - funny how I couldn't find any more when I was actually looking for it!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 10:07PM
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Nice find and picture. Must be fun to have them right on your property. I had to travel to get Euptoieta claudia livestock.

A short personal story is born from this if you can bear it... My favorite place was Pine Lake (8,000'), about 15 miles by dirt road northeast of Bryce Canyon Nat'l Park. It was the favorite for E. claudia because my family is who settled this country in the 1850's (John's Valley, and several other areas in central to south eastern Utah that we ranched). My mother and here brother and sister were born in a small encampment called Widtsoe (a few miles north of Pine Lake). Widtsoe has been a ghost town since the mid 30's, but the log cabin my one-armed grandfather built and they were born in still stands. Years ago I ran a metal detector there and found toys and other things they remembered from their childhood. Family outings and reunions on my mother's side have been a tradition at Pine Lake for well over 100 years. In the summer months it is literally taken over by hummingbirds and many species of Lepidoptera, so we usually camped there for 2 weeks most summers to include the 3 day reunion and collect lots of lep livestock (and rainbow trout).

Anyway, since Passiflora is not endemic in Utah, E. claudia uses Portlaca oleracea, Viola nephrophylla and V. adunca at Pine Lake. We always enjoyed walking through the huge Ponderosa pine parkways catching females for eggs, or looking for the plants and larva in the wet meadows.


Pine Lake at sunrise.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 10:35PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


So excited for you! I love raising these butterflies--there is nothing more beautiful than a VF chrysalis. I always find eggs/caterpillars on the little tiny sprouts of p incarnata just emerging from the soil. I watch the females hover just above the ground and stop to oviposit on the undersides of the tiniest of leaves. I've never found them on my violets, but something eats the plants down to the stems every year. It's amazes me the different habits of the different species in our diverse settings.

Larry, I always enjoy it when you reminisce and share it with us. Hope you will continue to do so. I'm keeping track of all these places that you write about in hopes of visiting them someday.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 11:22PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Oh, wow, what stunning scenery, Larry!
The wide open spaces of the American West are really something! Were you born (and raised) in southern or eastern Utah? Or did they go somewhere else, like California, when you were born? I don't blame you for loving that spot.
When I was 2 months old, my young parents moved from Hattiesburg to Quitman, MS, and our neighbors included a woman who was originally from Utah. She was one of my favorite people! She was so sweet and positive - she died about ?10 years ago with Alzheimer's. I thought she talked funny, for example, she pronounced the word talked as "tocked" instead of our "tawked", and she "tocked" about Utah occasionally. She was from Salt Lake City, but she said some of the countryside in Utah was beautiful, and she really loved that part - I can see why.
I'm aware that E. claudia uses a variety of host plants from a variety of plant families. I used to get the mottled brown chrysalids most of the time, but once I got lucky and got white ones -


    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 11:38PM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

That looks like fun Sherry. My summer was very busy. I raised very few cats this year. Always next year though!


    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 12:01PM
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Wow! Congrats Sherry! I had my first EVER V. Frits this year. I have never even seen an adult but found three cats on P. incarnata about two weeks ago. I was soooo excited! It is interesting how different our caterpillars look. I guess I was lucky. All three made the white pupa. I didn't know there was any other color.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 5:38PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Great pictures, Elisabeth!
Actually, my caterpillar looks like yours, my picture just didn't show all the white dashes. Here's a picture of one I made sometime in the past -

I found another one today, went in the house and stayed a while, came back to the garden to get it and couldn't find it! They're sneaky little buggers!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 7:32PM
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MissSherry - ....and I remember you saying that you had never found VF cats on your wild white violets, if I recall correctly? See how we retain information you give us here on the forum?

My violets are mostly the kind commonly referred to as "Johnny Jump Ups" and I have never found any on them either. They are long gone now anyway, because they are cooler weather plants, and die back when it heats up here in Oklahoma.



    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 7:40PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Susan, I've never found VFs on my wild white violets/V. primulifolia, but I've found them frequently - in past years - on common violets, the heart-shaped ones with the purple flowers. I think they're V. floridana. I'm amazed that you remembered anything about my white violets, though! Johnny-jump-ups die back in the summer here, like pansies, but the native violets keep their leaves all year, even in the winter, I think - I'm not sure about the winter - senior moment?
I noticed that the cats in the cage got off the host plant leaves yesterday evening, then got back on this morning. I'm wondering if they get off the host plant at night to keep from being eaten by marauding rabbits and/or deer when they browse the violet leaves? Makes sense.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 7:49PM
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I'm getting way off topic, but here goes on your questions...

My dad's side of the family settled Sevier County in central Utah. Mom's family moved to Central (near Richfield) and soon after she started at Richfield High school she met my dad when he returned from Iwo Jima. When first married they lived in Richfield. I was born at Fish Lake Lodge (almost 9,000') about 30 miles east of there in Fishlake Nat'l Forest. Since I spent so much time in the high mountains that's probably why I am so "up in the air" LOL, or at least why the arctic/alpine habitats are my favorite place to be. Besides the ranches and farms most of the businesses in the area were family owned, including up at the lake, and the family had a bunch of cabins and kept boats at the lake as well. So family reunions on Dad's side were always up at Fish Lake.

Only pictures I could find of the lodge where I was born. It was built in the eraly 1930's with logs from the local forest and is on the west side of the lake.

South end of the 1X6 mile lake from the NE side.

One I found on-line looking south from the NW end. I picked it because it shows Bowery Haven, my uncles boat marina/tackle shop, cafe, rental cabins and travel trailer park in the foreground on the NW end of the lake. In my early teens I spent a couple of summers working for him running the marina, cooking, and doing repairs/upgrades. I stayed in my grandpa's travel trailer that he left parked there all summer and spent most of my off hours out in his 1940's mahogany wood Cris Craft Sportsman fishing, or at the world famous Fremont River just a few minutes away flyfishing. 2-5 pound Rainbow trout was the norm, and up to 35 pound Macinaw.

Another picture from the SW end looking north.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 8:07PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


I don't think there has been anything "normal" about your life. What an incredible place to be born and to spend your youth. When did you decide you wanted to spend your life studying and rearing Lepidoptera? What factors influenced your decision?


    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 8:27PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Those pictures are amazing, Larry!
I bet you wish you could live there again - I sure would!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:11PM
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I started studying lepidoptera serious in 1964, but I had always had a keen interest in nature and what made it tick from when I was barely out of diapters on the ranch. A high school biology assignment to assemble an insect collection along with a three year on going genetic research project I was the lab assistent for through two years of biology and one of zoology was the triggers probably because for the first time I really understood the whys. The genetic project started out based around the rearing and hybridation of Drosophila through endless generations, but I turned it into a lepidopteran based study as well as by then lepidopteran life histories were my favorite. I also assembled an extensive mammal and bird collection for the school and did the taxidermy work on them. They and my insect collection become the base collections the school used for future biology and zoology students. When I went to college marine biology clicked my switch as a whole new world for me to explore, so that's why I studied for and eventually became one. A diving accident ended my "field" work in that career, I wasn't made to always work in the lab so lepidoptera filled the void and I went into engineering.

The high country in the Rockies is beautiful and offers endless opportunity, but it's a very harsh place to live in the winter. Fish Lake was only accessible from spring thaw until freeze up, the rest of the year it was snowshoe, cross country ski or horse travel up there only, and the closest permanent settlement was Koosharem 18 miles away over the mountains. With the advent of snow mobiles it's accessable year round now, but it's still a bitter cold place with deep snow in the winter.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 11:41PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I planted Passiflora lutea last year, hoping to get some of these. Plant came up again this year plus I've added two more. Now just waiting for the V Frits to find me.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 9:13PM
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I've only found VF on one of the local native flax or on Maypop here in the past. I haven't seen the cats around here this year, although there were some of the butterflies in spring.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 1:51AM
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