The Gulf Fritillary is a brightly colored butterfly common across extreme southern portions of the United States. At home in most open, sunny habitats, it frequents roadsides, disturbed sites, fields, open woodlands, pastures, yards, and parks.
In Florida, it can be found in all 67 counties. The butterfly undergoes distinct seasonal movements each year. Adults move northward in spring and form temporarily breeding colonies throughout the southeast. Individual vagrants may occasionally reach into the central U.S., but rarely into the Midwest. Starting in late summer and continuing through fall, huge numbers of adults migrate southward into peninsular Florida. Adults overwinter in frost-free portions of their range.
The Gulf Fritillary is a medium-sized butterfly with elongated forewings. Adults have a wingspan range of 65 to 95 mm. Females are generally larger than males. The sexes are dimorphic. The upper surface of the wings is bright orange with black markings. Females are somewhat darker and more extensively marked. The forewing cell contains three black-rimmed white spots. The undersides of the wings are brown with elongated silvery-white spots.
For about two weeks I attempted to photograph this beauty without much success. It was always gone by the time I grabbed my camera and went outdoors. Finally, one came and stayed long enough for me to capture some good shots. A couple days later I was thrilled to get a few more photos.
These butterflies are so beautiful. I love the blend of orange, brown, black and white colors. Their underside wings are spectacular when the silvery-white colored spots shimmer in bright light, giving them a metallic appearance. Dazzling, delightful creatures- don't you agree?