September is a month of transition in the garden with summer blooms waning and annuals spent from the summer heat. . .just like me :).
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!
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.
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.
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.
The larvae of the Gulf fritillary feed exclusively on species of passionflower.
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.
And they themselves have a voracious appetite!
They stripped the vine of leaves in about 10 days. . .
But it’s a small price to pay for these winged beauties!
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!
“Il faut bien que je supporte deux ou trois chenilles si je veux connaître les papillons.”
“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