Gulf FritillaryAgraulis vanillae
Sept. 1, 2007
This Gulf Fritillary Butterfly is laying her egg on a tendril of a Passionflower vine. The caterpillar will probably have a better chance for survival than those laid on leaves (such as the blurry one on the leaf in the background). The Passionflower vine has extrafloral nectaries that attract ants, the ants will also eat any insect eggs they encounter. The butterflies have learned to thwart this strategy by laying most of their eggs on the tendrils, far away from the nectaries! By the time the caterpillars are big enough to start eating the leaves, they are too big to be bothered by the ants. How cool is that?!