Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fall Part 2: Butterflies!

On another rather surprising autumn note, in late September my Passion Vine was the birth place of over 100 vibrant butterflies. I was concerned to see so many of them so I went online to see if there was someone who could tell me more about them. I found a website that identifies butterflies so I emailed a picture of my butterfly colony and the caterpillar. That same day a man named Ken Davenport responded telling me that my butterflies were called Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae). He said that they are from the tropical family and they generally live in Southern California. He also mentioned that they migrate from “permanent populations in the San Joaquin Valley and Bay Area [to Sacramento]” and that are sometimes brought into the area via imported nursery stock. When Ken lived here in Sacramento years ago he never saw a Gulf Fritillary himself. They can be pests to some gardeners, but mainly they are a delight to butterfly enthusiasts. Aside from chewing off every leaf on my passion vine (which doesn’t worry me a bit because it will come back), they haven’t touched anything else so I fit into the delighted category and am feeling fortunate to play host to the butterflies. Watching them is like seeing little fairies dressed up in bright orange dresses flitting around the garden!

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