Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Replacement for Globe Thistle in Virginia
June 15, 2013 - Hi, We are trying to get our garden to be 100% North American Native and are at about 90% native to our region. One of the last plants we have to replace is our Globe Thistle. Do you have a good r...
view the full question and answer

Making a perennial cutting garden friendly to butterflies.
February 05, 2016 - I would like to start a perennial cutting garden friendly to butterflies Where can I get a list of plants .
view the full question and answer

Plants for Daisy Girl Scout native plants project
December 13, 2013 - Hello, I am a daisy Girl Scout leader and we are working on one of our Journeys and Native Plants Patch Program which requires our group of 5-6 year old girls to plant and care for a mini-garden. ...
view the full question and answer

Yellow butterfly in Tennessee
August 19, 2009 - I live in Crossville Tenn and am seeing a butterfly that is yellow with a long hanging. What is it and what is it doing?
view the full question and answer

Plant that attracts butterflies, perhaps?
October 06, 2014 - What is that one plant/flower in your Center that attracts wildflowers like crazy? It's got a cute name, not a Latin or Scientific name. I have the plant, but don't know how to make it spread.
view the full question and answer

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