Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) (Linnaeus, 1758)

Diagnosis: The only member of the Heliconiinae recorded from Canada is bright orange on the upperside of its long pointed wings. The veins of the forewings are black, widening towards the margins. There are orange crescents in the dark hindwing border. The underside has distinct elongate, metallic silver spots on the hindwings and towards the tips of the forewings. Wingspan: 72 to 100 mm.

Range: A common tropical American species, the Gulf Fritillary has wandered north in migratory years to North Dakota and New York, and twice to Canada (see Flight Season below).

Similar Species: The Gulf Fritillary somewhat resembles the fritillaries in the genus Speyeria, but the wings of this species are much more elongated and pointed.

Early Stages: The glossy black larvae are covered with spines and have orange and yellow stripes; they are not likely to be found in Canada as none of the larval foodplants, passion flowers (Passiflora spp.), occurs here.

Abundance: A rare stray in Canada.

Flight Season: This butterfly flies year round in the southern U.S. In the northern U.S. strays usually are seen in late summer and early autumn. The Canadian records are at Aweme, Manitoba (Brooks, 1942), and at Shilo, Manitoba, seen by George Holland on 10 June 1991.

Habits: The Gulf Fritillary frequently visits flowers and often shows up in gardens and open areas in the south.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.