Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, August 10, 2015

A beautiful flash of orange in the garden

 Had me running for the camera...I was sure it would be gone when I got back outside, but, there it was,  a gorgeous Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly whose orange wings are decorated with a checkerboard of black spots, lines and chevrons. The spangles in its name are in reference to the silvery spots on the underside of the hind wing.

It's a skittish butterfly and I carefully crept closer and managed to capture a photo that show its black lines, dots, crescents and squiggles before it flitted away! Even the caterpillars are skittish! Violets may be plentiful, but, the cats are rarely seen and I've read that they feed at night, burrowing back into the leaf litter during the day*
What a treat to see it in the garden! It's a big butterfly and appreciates a flower with strong stems like Phlox paniculata 'Jeana' and other rough and tumble wildflowers found at Clay and Limestone. You're more likely to have the GSF visit your garden if you have violets, have strong nectar plants and leave leaf litter in place*

I'm so glad I didn't scare it off!
Gardening really does take a great deal of patience and waiting around for good things to happen!
xoxogail

Great Spangled Fritillary: Speyeria cybele
Brushfoot Family Nymphalidae
Wing span: 2 1/2 - 4 inches (6.3 - 10.1 cm). 
Caterpillar hosts: Various violet species
Adult food: They aren't picky, but appreciate  milkweed, purple coneflowers, silky dogwood, thistle, white crownsbeard, ragwort, sumac mistflower, ragwort, ironweed, zinnias, phlox and mountain mints. 
Habitat: Open, moist places including fields, valleys, pastures, right-of-ways, meadows, open woodland, prairies anywhere near where violets grow.
Garden Habit:  Males patrol open areas for females. Eggs are laid in late summer on or near their host plant violets and the newly-hatched caterpillars eat the egg cases, then overwinter until spring in a state of dispause in the leaf litter on the garden/woodland floor. In the spring they make their way to young violet leaves and begin eating. it will emerge two or three weeks after it pupates.

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

22 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos of a very colorful butterfly!
    Hope you are having a great day!
    Lea

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    Replies
    1. I so appreciate your sweet comments when I post Lea! xo

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  2. Lucky you getting a picture of this beauty. I had a monarch float through the garden today and couldn't track it down for a picture.

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  3. Loved seeing this. Smart caterpillars!~~Dee

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  4. Replies
    1. I totally recommend it Kathy. I think High Country and Lazy S are internet sources. Locally, try GroWild Nursery.

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  5. I don't think I've ever seen this butterfly! You managed to get a couple of lovely shots.

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    1. Thank you...It's a pretty thing and it looks like it's had a hard time!

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  6. Great photos, as usual, Gail and glad to see this butterfly!

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  7. Beautiful! I'm glad you didn't scare it off, too.

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  8. Really nice pictures of a beautiful butterfly.

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  9. Beautiful photo, thanks. I do not believe I have ever seen this one. Your blog is very much appreciated.

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  10. Beautiful photo, thanks. I do not believe I have ever seen this one. Your blog is very much appreciated.

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  11. I have seen so many butterflies this summer. I love this one. I think I have seen it in the garden. Not today though, it is pouring.

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  12. These are hard to find in my garden too, but I did have some earlier this summer. I should see the hairstreaks soon, which are also favorites of mine. Once the sedum Autumn Joy blooms, they usually show up.

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  13. Beautiful! I haven't seen this one in my garden yet.

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  14. So lovely Gail & a great photograph - if I was that insect, I'd post that shot to my Facebook Page! Had first monarch last week. Glad, but worried, it's nice to have the one, but there should be so many more....
    B.

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  15. Thanks so much for these excellent photos; you've helped me realize they're here, too! Violets and leaf litter aplenty, and a border full of phlox. Mostly I see swallowtails, but earlier this week there was this fritillary. Now I'm going to keep a sharper lookout. Haven't noticed any monarchs yet, though I should go sit within sight of the Joe Pyes a while before saying that confidently.

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  16. I love to see these beauties too and they are hard to capture...they do love phlox! Wonderful shots.

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  17. Lots of violets here but no Great Spangled Frits. Maybe some day ...

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  18. Wonderful photos Gail. Interesting to see them enjoying your Phlox, I grow various Phlox species here but rarely find its a plant that attracts UK native Butterflies. Lovely to see yours is more successful.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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