En Español

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?


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


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.


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

Native plants for a school butterfly garden
February 11, 2008 - My son's school is having a beautification work day and one of the projects is a butterfly garden. Parents are being asked to donate plants, and we would like to suggest appropriate plants for this ...
view the full question and answer

What would replace non-native orange tree leaves in butterfly hatchery?
July 17, 2009 - I have a very small orange tree that currently has dozens of caterpillars on it that look like bird droppings. I think I have narrowed them down to a swallowtail butterfly. I would love to let them ma...
view the full question and answer

Blue Mist Ageratum Shrub?
June 16, 2015 - Is there a shrub version of Blue Mistflower Ageratum? I believe we saw some at the Butterfly Center in MacAllen. Would it survive in Georgetown, TX?
view the full question and answer

Listing of plants matched to specific pollinators
July 01, 2014 - Could you refer me to a listing of plants matched to specific pollinators? I have completed the conversion of a local nature center garden to a pollinator garden with all natives. We hope to place ed...
view the full question and answer

Promoting Monarch Habitats in Texas
July 11, 2016 - My parents have a 6 acre pasture in East, TX with native milkweed in it. What are the best times of year to bush hog to promote more milkweeds & do you know of any grants to help manage land for monar...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center