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*
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!
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.