Sam Crowe, Class of 2021
For years, I have been trimming shrubs and pulling out vines that have been determined to take over everything in my yard. That changed a little this year.
One day, I glanced out the window and saw what looked like a Gulf Fritillary laying eggs on one of the vines. For the next few days, I paid more attention to the area, and every day, Gulf Fritillary would stop by.
I eventually determined which vine was being used by the butterflies. I could spot tiny, yellow eggs—sometimes a single egg and several eggs on a leaf.
So, I decided to see if I could raise a Gulf Fritillary from egg to adult.
I selected a clear mixing bowl and kept a moist layer of paper towels on the bottom. The moisture was just a guess; I’m unsure if it was valuable.
I then placed a few leaves in the bowl, with one egg on one of the leaves. A very tiny caterpillar did finally emerge, probably too small for me to see at first. I kept feeding it leaves, and it kept growing. Growing caterpillars eat a lot of leaves and poop (called “frass”). I changed out the damp paper towel every three days or so.
It looked scary, but the spines did not hurt.
Eventually, I placed a small stick in the bowl, and the caterpillar did pupate. It was about two weeks from when the egg hatched until the caterpillar pupated.
About 10 days after that, the adult did emerge. It emerged at night, so I did not observe that process, but I have another caterpillar at the pupae stage.
I had no idea what the vine was. Susan Abernethy told me it was probably passiflora incarnata lucea, or the purple passion flower. I had never seen the bloom. Next spring, I’ll let certain vines grow a little longer. I wonder what else is living in my yard that I did not know existed.
This alien-looking flower was growing in my backyard. What a surprise. Next spring, I’ll stop trimming this vine and see if it will reach the blooming stage.
PS – The unrest may be over now, but I thought I would include a few “Barbie Birds.”