Earlier this year we had the Gulf fritillary butterflies come make themselves at home on my passion vines. Their larvae pretty much defoliated my vines and it was a battle. They seemed to have moved on during the summer, but are now back with a vengeance, once again happily eating my passion vines. They also like flitting around the cypress vines and mist flowers, which is very pretty to watch.
This year the vines produced fruit. We counted eight passion fruit today. I hope the larvae do not like to eat that too.
Last summer I planted passion vines on a trellis behind my raised bed garden. It was an attempt to provide shade from the hot afternoon sun. They did well, but froze back over the winter. This spring they sent out runners and started climbing again, but this year we have an abundance of Gulf Frittilary Butterflies that are seeking out these vines, and their larva apparently love eating it. I am torn between removing them from the vine by hand to save the plants or allowing them to happily eat to their heart’s content and hope the vines recover afterwards. I have settled on doing a little bit of both. If I can keep the vines alive, my hope is that in a few years there will be enough vines to host the butterflies and enjoy the beautiful flowers.
Below are several caterpillars that I picked off the vines with the leaves and flowers they were eating.
Close up of a very hungry caterpillar.
Gulf Fritillary pupa
Gulf Frittillary butterfly on lantana