Custom Search

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.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

The Eastern tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, is a large (12 cm wingspan) swallowtail butterfly. It is found in the Eastern United States, as far north as southern Vermont, and as far West as extreme Eastern Colorado. It flies from spring through fall, and most of the year in the southern portions of its range, where it may produce two or three broods a year. In the Appalachian region, it is replaced by the closely-related and only recently described Papilio appalachiensis, and in the north, it is replaced by the closely-related Papilio canadensis. These three species can be very difficult to distinguish, and were formerly all considered to be a single species.

Adult males are yellow, with four black "tiger stripes" on each fore wing. The trailing edges of the fore and hind wings are black which is broken with yellow spots. On the medial margin of the hind wing next to the abdomen there are small red and blue spots.

There are two morphs of adult females, a yellow and a dark one. The yellow morph is similar to the male, except that the hind wings have an area of blue between the black margin and the main yellow area. In the dark morph, most of the yellows area are replaced with a dark gray. A shadow of the "tiger stripes" can still be seen on the dark females. The dark form is more common in the Southern portions of the range, especially in areas also inhabited by the pipevine swallowtail, which it seems to mimic.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails often rest with their wings fully spread, particularly if the sun is out.

Female lays spherical green eggs on the top of leaves of host plants. After hatching, the caterpillars often eat the shell of their egg. The first instars are dark and mimic bird droppings. The larvae eat the leaves of a wide variety of trees and shrubs, including cottonwood, tulip tree, sweet bay, and cherry. Adults are strictly diurnal; they start to fly towards noon and by and by return to rest throughout the afternoon (Fullard & Napoleone 2001).

It is the state butterfly of Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina and Delaware.

Butterflies Collection