Agraulis larvae

A couple of weeks ago (December 2, actually), I happened to be outside and found this larva of Agraulis vanillae, the beautiful Gulf Fritillary, on our maypop (passiflora) vine. I can’t get over how those little feet work so well to keep these guys attached to whatever they’re clinging to at the moment.

Seeing this caterpillar was a bit of a surprise, because most of that entire fence on the side of the house is covered with a very aggressive Aristolochia vine that these fritillary caterpillars can’t eat. But way back when we planted, we had two (or maybe it was three?) of these native passiflora vines, and only one of the exotic Dutchman’s pipe. Even in the detail photos, the larger leaves of the exotic vine are easy to spot; it’s pretty hard to tell that the caterpillar is happily munching on its food in and among all that foliage that wouldn’t do it any good at all…

Now I’m not saying that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but there really is something to it, at least as far as these vines are concerned. If I even want to see one of these vines, I have to go over to my neighbor’s yard and look back at the fence; for some reason the pretty little flowers are more prominent on that side of the fence.

Here’s another shot of the fritillary: