Monday, August 10, 2009

A Bargain at Twice the Price

I stopped by my local Lowe's the other day, and (as usual) couldn't resist a quick trip through the garden center to see if they had anything I just had to have. To my great delight, they happened to have passionflower vine in stock! I already have one native purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) and the gulf fritillary butterflies (and their caterpillars) simply adore it.

Lowe's happened to have blue passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) available the other day; it's not native, but it's still great for Florida and is said to be especially popular with the julia butterfly, which I have yet to draw successfully to My Florida Backyard.

I'm not really supposed to be buying plants right now - My Florida Backyard is living on a tight budget - but my thought process went something like this: "Passionflower! Oh, no, I can't. Well, how much is it? $10? That's pretty reasonable - and look how many buds it has. No, really, I can't. Oh, it's blue passionflower! I don't have one of those. Still, $10 is $10. Oh, but look at all the caterpillars already on it! What if someone else buys it and decides the caterpillars are pests and kills them all? I can't let that happen! I have to buy it!"

So, dear reader, I bought it. And today I discovered that not only does it have plenty of caterpillars (if you look closely at the bloom above, you can even see one there), but it actually has a chrysalis too.

Gulf fritillary chrysalises look amazingly like dead leaves, don't they? Very different from a monarch chrysalis, but the same magic of life is going on inside of there.

While I was out admiring my new passionflower vine, multiple butterflies were visiting the milkweed, which is in full bloom. I saw a giant swallowtail, monarchs, a gulf fritillary, white peacocks, a fiery skipper, and this female eastern black swallowtail, who was here for at least half an hour and posed for some nice pictures.

More pics in the Flickr Butterfly Gallery, as usual.

All in all, a pretty good day for butterflies in My Florida Backyard. We'll keep an eye on the chrysalis and try to catch some shots of the butterfly emerging, if at all possible. Stay tuned!

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