Late Bloomers and Winged Beauties

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September is a month of transition in the garden with summer blooms waning and annuals spent from the summer heat. . .just like me :).

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While I’m biding my time for the mums, pansies and pumpkins to arrive in garden centers, I’ve been enjoying some late bloomers lately that have provided some entertainment as well as unexpected fall color!

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Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as maypop, purple passionflower, wild apricot, and wild passion vine, is a vigorous grower and common wildflower in the southern United States and is a source of nectar and food for butterflies and bees.

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When my Passion Flower Vine volunteered and pushed its way up between cracks of the boards of the porch of my Potting Shed, I was anxiously awaiting the blooms it would bring this summer.

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 While I knew the blooms would attract pollinators, I had no idea that the foliage would be a food source for the Gulf fritillary butterfly.

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 The larvae of the Gulf fritillary feed exclusively on species of passionflower.

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The caterpillars have rows of black spines that are soft to the touch and non-stinging, but protect them from predators along with their bright orange color~ a warning that they’re toxic if eaten.

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And they themselves have a voracious appetite!

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They stripped the vine of leaves in about 10 days. . .

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But it’s a small price to pay for these winged beauties!

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The chrysalis resembles a dead leaf and a butterfly emerges in about two weeks, hanging upside down until the wings expand and are ready for flight!

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“Il faut bien que je supporte deux ou trois chenilles si je veux connaître les papillons.”

Gulf Fritillary Buttefly and Caterpillars

Translation:

“I must endure the presence of two or three caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with butterflies.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

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  A Butterfly metaphor for life :)

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Life Cycle

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  39 comments for “Late Bloomers and Winged Beauties

  1. September 18, 2015 at 7:21 am

    Gorgeous photos!!!

  2. Michelle
    September 18, 2015 at 7:22 am

    They are beauties! Thanks for sharing!

  3. September 18, 2015 at 7:27 am

    So beautiful photographs, fascinated me. Thank you, love, nia

  4. September 18, 2015 at 7:33 am

    Just so informative. Beautiful pictures. Thanks for teaching, teacher.

  5. Marg Ayers
    September 18, 2015 at 7:34 am

    Beautiful as always, Thanks for your lovely blog.

  6. Ellen Stillabower
    September 18, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Beautiful!! I always plant extra parsley for the caterpillars that eventually turn into flying beauties!!! We are enjoying them now..just like you..thanks for sharing..😍😍😍🐛🐛🐛

  7. September 18, 2015 at 7:46 am

    OMGoodness, they are beautiful! I was amazed when I saw how they stripped all the leaves from your vine!!!! But, like you said, a small price to pay to see their beauty. Thanks so much for sharing this, Mary. Have a beautiful weekend!

  8. Sherlie Magaret
    September 18, 2015 at 7:58 am

    I share my parsley with the monarchs, and also the dill.

  9. Linda E.
    September 18, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Mary, thanks so much for the lovely photographs, and all the great information! A wonderful blog!

  10. September 18, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Wow Mary, isn’t that something how the Passion flower vine was stripped so quickly? It was all worth it to see the beauty that resulted, wasn’t it? Your photos are just gorgeous and I thank you for the beauty this morning!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  11. September 18, 2015 at 8:52 am

    You must have a spectacular camera to get such wonderful photos! That plus an eye for composition makes for such beauty to behold.

  12. September 18, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Mary, I’m speechless at this beauty and the luck of the moment some creature planted the passion vine seed below your shed! Your patience in documenting the stages of life and also in watching your vine disappear are amazing, but the result is this fabulous series of photos! I have seen some monarchs this year in my yard for the first time in quite awhile, feeding on the sedum, but my efforts to photograph them were not successful as they were frightened away by my approach. I don’t know how you take such gorgeous close ups! I really enjoyed this post, both the photos and the information. I hope your butterflies return next year. Linda

  13. Sue
    September 18, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Thank you Mary, for a beautiful and informative post this morning. It was such a nice way to begin the day…

  14. Susan S
    September 18, 2015 at 10:32 am

    A feast for the butterflies and a feast for our eyes.

    Thank you for sharing the beauty.

  15. Ellen Martin
    September 18, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    What absolutely stunning photos of the cycle of life for these butterfly beauties. Thank you for your perseverance in documenting God’s amazing creation! I hope that you have framed some of your photographs. I don’t know of anything that could be more beautiful!!

  16. September 18, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Beautiful pictures and the Butterfly’s are so pretty. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Have a great weekend. Are we ever going to see some Fall weather? I am tired of all this HEAT and DROUGHT
    Have a great weekend.

  17. September 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    Mary, you captured some amazing shots of these beautiful butterflies, including their metamorphosis. If I were still teaching, I’d be sharing this post with my students. Amazing how quickly caterpillars can consume an entire plant. Thanks for sharing these summer glories. The bee shot is now on my Bzzzzzzzzz Pinterest Board. ;-)
    I’m wilted from the summer heat too!

  18. September 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Stunning!

  19. September 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Oh my goodness, how beautiful! I would have been so sad about losing all the leaves on the passion flower though. I’m ready for autumn! I think the heat is leaving after this weekend.
    blessings
    ~*~

  20. Eleanor
    September 18, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Gorgeous photos thank you for sharing! What type of camera and lense do you use?

    • September 18, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Thank you Eleanor, my camera/lens information can be found on this post. :)

  21. Bonnie Keearns
    September 18, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    How interesting is nature’s beauty; thank you for sharing it with us. I had no idea about those wonder creatures, the caterpillars had a love for the Passion Flower Vines. What a beautiful circle of life you captured!

  22. Melodie Strickland
    September 18, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Mary,

    What amazing photographs you have taken. Thank you for sharing. This weekend is the last weekend of summer and tomorrow’s temperatures will be close to 90 here. Enjoy your weekend. My husband and I are getting together with friends of many years whom we haven’t seen in awhile so looking forward to it.

    Melodie

  23. September 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    I really am speechless Mary, what you’ve captured and shared is simply incredible! How it must have nudged your heart watching those caterpillars devour your beautiful vine~ but the acquaintance of these butterflies is definitely worth it!! Wow!
    Jenna

  24. Paula
    September 18, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Amazing !!

  25. September 18, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    ““The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” –― Rabindranath Tagore
    Everytime I see a gorgeous butterfly, I think of that quote. Thank you for the share of info and your beautiful photographs, preserving the precious seconds of your butterflies lives, Sandi

  26. franki
    September 18, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    The ethereal papillon!! Our swallowtails are disappearing…the Buddleia is missing it’s jewelry!! franki

  27. Carolyn
    September 18, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Boy, oh boy! You’ve done it again, Mary! Simply amazed & made our eyes just dance over the screen taking in all lovely photos! Well, mostly lovely…the poor vine! As I studied the butterflies, I heard myself saying “Oh!” various times. Thank you, Mary. You sure are a good sport!

  28. September 18, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Breathtaking photography, Mary! A lovely subject and an appreciative photographer: The perfect combination!

  29. Cynthia Raines
    September 19, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Simply amazing! It was like reading / watching a “Discovery” documentary – I was shocked at how many you had and how fast they ate your vine, but SO worth it. The wonder of creation. The pictures are incredible. I’m off now to start decorating for fall – you’re such an inspiration! Thanks Mary. p.s. Thanks for telling us where you purchased your brown corduroy leaf pillow, it would be great if they brought it back. :)

  30. September 19, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    How delightful to capture the gulf fritillary in the various stages!. Amazing photos! I experienced the devastation of a dill plant years ago and I wasn’t as kind as you nor was I very smart. Since then, I have learned so much about butterflies but just a drop in the bucket.
    Love your watering can collection.

  31. Dee
    September 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Wonderful post and the teaching value to your followers. I had them in my San Diego garden along with Monarchs. While they do strip the vine it bounces right back to be part of the cycle again….all is not lost. The foliage (host plant) has to be ready for the next round of egg laying by the butterflies.

  32. September 20, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Wow Mary..you captured the most gorgeous photographs of the butterflies and the caterpillars….i used to have a passion flower vine in Florida…but never thought they would live this way….will have to find one…I love them.

  33. September 29, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    i haven’t seen a butterfly since i left in may, its always to windy for a living thing to cling here, i will say i don’t mind the devouring, yet you manage to make even that look good! so many excellent shots, fun to see you play the days away! ahh, my old life…

  34. August 7, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Wow, first hand experience is the best teacher! Now, that I’m older I am forgetting things. I read this in 2015 but didn’t retain all the information about the passion flower being the host plant for gulf fritillary butterflies. Now, that I have learned the stages and am better at identifying various butterfly species I am retaining all I have read more. You captured wonderful pictures. I have become so interested in butterflies. Great post with many faucets to learn from.

Thank you for your comments~ they make my day ♥

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