Thursday, February 19, 2015

Corralitas Drive: Gulf Fritillary Camouflage

Photo: Diane Edwardson, February 18, 2015.  Subtle shading on the underside of the rear wings on Gulf Fritillaries (Agraulis vanillae), creates a 3-dimensional effect of sticks or plant stems.  (Click on photos to enlarge.)  

Not seeing it yet?
Photo: Diane Edwardson, February 15, 2015.  From below, a predator might see plant stems in the dappled bright light & dead leaves.  Even their bodies are striped brown & white from below & bright orange from above.  Although, it looks as if a predator managed to get a piece of this butterfly's rear wing.

Butterflies seem to think it's summer already.  In 25 years  in the Red Car Property Neighborhood, I've never seen so many, so early in the year.  In addition to the Gulf Fritillaries, Skippers, & the highly unusual Red Admirals, I've observed a lot of Marine Blues, Tiger Swallowtails, West Coast Ladies, Checkered Whites, yellows (don't ask me what kind), Mourning Cloaks, a few Giant Swallowtails, Monarchs & a couple of black Skippers (never seen those before either). 

Butterflies all seem to like the non-native Lantana in my yard.  The Lantana has proven excellent for photo ops.  

Update 2-26-15: we regret the misleading headline - sometimes we get lazy in writing them. We did not mean "Camouflage" as  subspecies of Gulf Frittilary. That's camouflage as in natural selection creating the clever disguise under their wings. 

Click here for all the butterflies we've documented through the years.