Sunday, May 26, 2013

Passion Butterfly Larva

Last season some caterpillars nearly ate two of my passion flower vines.  So this year I'm making an effort to remove these caterpillars as soon as they show up.  Turns our these are Gulf Fritillary or as they are more commonly know Passion Butterfly.  The larvae feed exclusively on species of passion flower.  The spines are soft to the touch and do not sting. However, the larvae are poisonous if eaten, as the bright coloration advertises.

Larva of Gulf Fritillary or Passion Butterfly
So far my passion flower vines are off to a good start and beginning to bloom.

Passion Flower

Passion Flower
A week ago I found three caterpillers and removed them from the vine.  One of them is in the picture on the left.  See how much bigger the one on the right is, this is the one I found today.

The Scrub-Jay knows the caterpillar is poisonous and took only peanuts.

Western Scrub-Jay ignoring the caterpiller
I'll let a few caterpillars stay and transform into a chrysalis and then into a butterfly.  I just won't let them eat the entire vine this year.

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