Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fritillary life cycle evolved around its host the Violet

Chanced upon a post at Beautiful Wildlife Garden about the violet being the host of the Fritillary. Having heard this before, I knew enough to let violets grow in the gardens just in case a fritillary was about laying eggs. But all the talk recently concerning native plants and native insects going around the blogs and forums have had an effect. Just what is the life cycle of a Fritillary and what besides the fact that the violet is a host plant should I know in order to keep from sabatoging efforts in the wildlife garden?

Well first of all there are many Fritillary and many violets.
Caterpillars in the field and garden Allen, Brock, Glassberg

A fritillary female lays eggs in late summer but not on the host plant. Instead she lays the eggs into the duff individually and up to about a 1000 of them. The eggs hatch in fall then spend the winter as first instar not needing to eat (not growing) just hunkering down into a safe hiding spot amid the debris. Come the sunshine of longer days and warmer temperatures of spring and our little guy or girl starts looking for food. Once finding a violet it eats quickly then hides in the plant debris or under a leaf until it eats again. Growing quickly and traveling from violet to violet hopefully the caterpillar finds enough food and lives until the time to pupate in early spring. This is also done in the decaying organic materials creating a duff on the surface of the soil, well hidden from predators and most people.
After emerging the fritillary has no need of the violet as many nectar souces will do for the summer until egg laying time rolls around in a few weeks.

So question answered. Leave the violets grow in an undisturb state. Don't do so much clean up or raking in fall. If you do prescribed burns manage carefully or you will burn off the wintering instars.

Do a little reading yourself just google Fritillary life cycle or read from the links below.

Regal Fritillary northern edu


Regal fact sheet




Blogger Beatriz Moisset said...

Interesting how we both covered the same subject from slightly different angles: Pollinators in Winter. Fritillaries

3/5/11 4:42 PM  
Blogger Gloria said...

Looks like i should have searched your site a bit more. You tend to give more life cycle information than most blogs.Seems there is more to wildlife gardening than growing plants. And the more you know the clearer it becomes how important including native plants in the garden can be. important

I'll just add you to the list of places to read more.

4/5/11 10:47 AM  
Blogger Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Habitat, habitat, habitat.

If only people would stop thinking of violets among their trees and bushes as "weeds"!

If only people would stop using their leaf blowers to clear those awful fallen leaves and make everything tidy!

17/5/11 9:00 AM  

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