Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - November 18, 2011

From: Denton, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Where are the Gulf Fritillary butterflies?
Answered by: Nan Hampton, Mike Quinn and Valerie Bugh

QUESTION:

I have a beautiful passiflora plant that more of a bush than a vine, and I expected to see more Gulf Fritillary butterflies than I have seen this season (I've seen only a few over the months). My question is this-Where are all the Gulf Fritillaries this season? This situation also seems to stretch across the whole United States from Florida to California. So, what's up guys?-Is it the weather, habitat destruction, or is this a normal dynamic of their life-cycle? I would appreciate any light you could shed on this issue, because I'm really baffled.

ANSWER:

I checked with a couple of entomologists associated with the Wildflower Center—Mike Quinn, President of the Austin Butterfly Forum, and Valerie Bugh, head of The Fauna Project at the Wildflower Center—and they agreed that it was a combination of the drought and the extremely high temperatures of the summer that reduced the number of caterpillars of  Agraulis vanillae (Gulf Fritillary) this summer.  High temperatures, in particular, are deadly to caterpillars and many other species of butterflies were similarly affected.  This would certainly explain the lack of butterflies in the Denton area where the average maximum temperature for the month of July, 2011 was 102.3 degrees F. and for August, 2011, 104.7 degrees F.  Similar temperatures prevailed over most of Texas and the southwest US.

 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Will Butterfly Plant Survive in Mansfield, Texas
January 06, 2012 - I have a butterfly plant that was very successful (about 4 feet tall) right up until the cold snap three weeks ago. I've read they have a tap root, so I'm hoping it will come back next spring. Mea...
view the full question and answer

Groundcover and Butterfly attractants for LaRue Texas
May 02, 2012 - LaRue, TX - Would like a native low growing plant as a groundcover. I would like it for six+ hours of sun, drought tolerant, and ones that butterflies might enjoy, while deer won't. Some winter int...
view the full question and answer

What species of Aristolochia occur in Hidalgo County, TX?
August 06, 2009 - What species of Aristolochia or are in the Aristolochiaceae family occur in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, particularly Hidalgo Co., TX. Both Pipevine and Polydamas Swallowtail butterflies occur down h...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Garden, non-poisonous to Dogs, in Taylor MI
March 27, 2014 - I have a small fenced yard with a patio that my dogs have free access to. I would like to create a butterfly garden and add other plants that are non toxic to my dachshunds. Any suggestions. I am f...
view the full question and answer

Plants for attracting butterflies in Austin
April 28, 2012 - My 9 year-old son is interested in finding butterfly eggs this Spring. His 3rd grade class is studying butterflies right now. I found a Wildflower Center article that lists several plants butterflie...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.