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Monday, November 26, 2007

Gulf Fritillary

The Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, a striking, bright orange butterfly of the family Nymphalidae, subfamily Heliconiinae. These were formerly classified in a separate family, the Heliconiidae or longwing butterflies, and like other longwings this species does have long, rather narrow wings in comparison with other butterflies. It is not closely related to the true fritillaries. It is a medium to large butterfly, with a wingspan of from 6 to 9.5 cm. Its underwings are buff, with large silvery spots. It takes its name from the fact that migrating flights of the butterflies are sometimes seen over the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf Fritillary is commonly seen in parks and gardens, as well as in open country. Its range extends from Argentina through Central America Mexico, and the West Indies to the southern United States, as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area on the west coast. It is occasionally found further north in the US.

Ulysses Butterfly, Kuranda State Forest, Queensland, Australia

The Ulysses butterfly (Papilio ulysses), also known as the blue mountain butterfly, is a large Australian swallowtail. The Ulysses butterfly has a wingspan of about 14 cm (5.5 inches). It lives in northeastern Australia along the coast of Queensland. It inhabits tropical rainforest areas and suburban gardens. The Ulysses butterfly's favourite food plant is euodia (Melicope elleryana), a tree with clusters of small pink flowers growing straight out of the branches. The upperside the wings are an iridescent electric blue; the underside is a more subdued black and brown in colouration. The colours are produced by the microscopic structure of the scales.[1]
Ulysses butterfly at the Melbourne Zoo
Ulysses butterfly at the Melbourne Zoo

The female of the species differs from the male in that she has little crescents of blue in the black sections of her hind wings. When the butterfly is perched the intense blue of its wings is hidden, helping it to blend in with its surroundings. When in flight the butterfly can be seen hundreds of metres away as sudden bright blue flashes. This butterfly is used as an emblem for Queensland tourism.

Males are strongly attracted to blue objects which they mistake for females. Females favour small trees up to 2 metres tall to lay their eggs.

Butterflies Collection