The Gulf Fritillary is a member of a group called “longwing” butterflies. Most of the species in this group are tropical in nature, but the Gulf Fritillary is found from Canada to Argentina. It appears in the Northern two-thirds of the United States during the Spring, but returns to the southern third of the country as the weather cools. The Gulf Fritillary is commonly found in sunny, open areas such as parks, yards, meadows, and gardens.
With a wingspan of 2-3 inches, Gulf Fritillaries are medium sized butterflies. The upper side of their wings is bright orange separated by black wing veins. Their front wings have several black spots, often with a silver dot in the center, and 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 two-thirds. The tips of the wings are brown, and the wings have black and silver spots. Their hind wings are brown and dotted with silver.
Adult Gulf Fritillaries feed on nectar from the Passionflower plant. Females lay their yellow, oblong eggs on the Passionflower, where the larvae develop.
Full grown larvae are about 11/2 inches long and bluish-gray in appearance with three pairs of muddy red stripes running the length of their bodies. The head and body have rows of black spines that are branched.
Though their chrysalis is mottled brown and angular in appearance, a very colorful butterfly emerges. You can watch their whole life cycle below!