Females are generally larger and have more brown in their markings. Gulf fritillaries have a chemical defense mechanism in which they release odorous chemicals in response to predator sightings. As a result, common predators learn to avoid this species.
Gulf Fritillaries have several broods in spring and summer, and can survive winter temperatures as low as 21 degrees F. Adults overwinter.
Favorite nectar plants include Lantana, Butterfly Bush, Zinnia, Aster and Thistle.
Yellow eggs are laid singly on or near some species of Passion Vines like Maypops (Passiflora incarnata), Passiflora lutea and Passiflora affinis. Eggs gradually turn a brownish-red color.
Left: A Gulf Fritillary nectaring on Lantana
Suitable host plant species provide a good structure for larval host habitats which enables young populations of gulf fritillaries to be sufficiently nurtured and protected.
The driving factor behind what causes the female to oviposit on or near the host plant is most likely due to the certain chemical composition of the specific genus of the host plant. Once the female recognizes the chemical composition (by using the antennae), the female will oviposit.
Larvae may feed on all parts of the plant and can rapidly defoliate host vines.
Right: Caterpillar on Bluecrown Passionflower (Passiflora caerulea)
When the caterpillar is ready to create a chrysalis, it turns a grayish color and begins to spin a silk-like ball that it uses to attach to a surface.
The pupa is mottled brown and resembles a dead leaf.
Egg stage – 4 to 8 days
Caterpillar – 2 to 3 weeks
Chrysalis – 5 to 10 days
Butterfly – 2 to 4 weeks