En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Food for butterflies in Austin
April 21, 2013 - Mr. Smarty Plants, my kids and I are raising Painted Lady butterflies from caterpillars but it's still too cold to release them (oddly cool spring we're having!) If they mate and lay eggs, what loc...
view the full question and answer

Native host plants for Painted Lady Butterfly
June 01, 2006 - I am looking for host plants for the Painted Lady Butterfly that I can plant in my school's (I am a teacher) native plant/butterfly garden. As part of the curriculum, each spring the 1st grade raises...
view the full question and answer

Foundation plants for Albuquerque.
July 01, 2012 - Hello, I live in Albuquerque. I am looking for some native/xeric low water usage plants for foundation plants for my home. They will be foundation plants for a two story home that has a large ponde...
view the full question and answer

Availability of Heliotropium angiospermum from Austin
April 01, 2014 - I have admired the Wildflower Center's Heliotropium angiospermum (Scorpian's Tail) for the great number of butterflies it attracts. I would really love to purchase one on these plants, but don't se...
view the full question and answer

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

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center