The Gulf Fritillary is a member of a group called "longwing" butterflies. Most of the species in this group are tropical in nature. The Gulf Fritillary is found from Canada to Argentina. It occurs only as a migrant in the northern 2/3 of the U.S. but, it is a resident in the southern 1/3 of the country. In the spring it migrates north and in the winter it migrates south.
The Gulf Fritillary is commonly found in sunny, open areas such as parks, yards, meadows, gardens and along the road side.
These butterflies are medium sized. They have a wingspan of 2-3 inches and, the wings are relatively long and narrow. The upper side of their wings is bright orange and, the wing veins are black. Their front wings have several black spots and, usually three of these spots have a silver dot in the center. Their hind wings have a black border that contains several orange spots.
On the underside of this butterfly, the front wings are orange in the basal 2/3. The tips of the wings are brown and, the wings have black dots and silver spots. Their hind wings are brown and have many silver spots.
Adult Gulf Fritillaries feed on nectar from the Passion flower plant. Females lay their eggs on the Passion flower, where the larvae develop. The eggs are yellow in color, oblong and have ridges along the sides.
Full grown larvae are about 11/2 inches long. They are bluish-gray to bluish-black and, they have three pair of reddish-brown stripes running the length of their body. The head and body have rows of black spines that are branched.
The chrysalis is mottled brown and is angular in appearance.