Variegated Fritillary Update

I was out last night, weeding in the moon garden. We’re over 8 inches behind in rain fall so far this year. Then take into consideration that we have good ole’ clay soil; it does make for a challenging year gardening. I was using a spade to turn the soil over where the weeds and grasses had resprouted since last time I weeded. I’m trying to get areas ready so I can plant.

While working along the stone edging of the garden, I flipped over a young violet plant to find a partially-grown, red, black and white caterpillar. My first thought was “variegated fritillary.” Next thought was maybe a “great spangled fritillary.” I moved the caterpillar on a nearby violet out of the weeding area.

My Caterpillars of Eastern North America book confirmed that variegated fritillary was right. It also listed 8 fritillary species that lay their eggs on violets.

The caterpillar looked to be half grown. The book said they grow to 2 inches long. The length of the one I found was about an inch or so.

Variegated fritillary

This morning I was wishing I had a way to rear the caterpillar to adult. The caterpillar book showed the chrysalis to be shiny gold and silver, with small black dots. I went out and looked. No caterpillar. There were a lot more violets around than I’d originally noticed. Now I’m afraid to walk around in that area. There’s a chance, though, that I might be able to find the chrysalis later.

When the adult emerges, if it’s a female, she will continue emigrating northward, laying eggs as she goes … if it’s a male, I assume it might head north too.


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Therese on June 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

    You are amazing! You can notice even the most minute things. You notice things most people would look over. Thanks for noticing! We all need to learn from you.


  2. Posted by Therese on June 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Did I use the word “notice” enough in my previous response? My mouth is open in amazement!


  3. I just found one of these caterpillars on a plantain leaf this morning and found your blog post in my search for what species it is. Thanks! =)


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