We stopped along the roadside to look at some yellow flowers and noticed this Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)…not a very large or spectacularly colored species, but very pretty and intricately marked when you take a close look.
This species lays its eggs singly on host plants of several different species. The caterpillars are not selective in their food preferences. I have often seen them on Maypop (Passiflora incarnate) vines in our small field, but they are also found on many other species. I have a photograph of a caterpillar in one of our Nature Notes. Go to the Nature Notes menu and click on Nature Notes #5, October, 2011 to download that issue.
In the southern U.S., as many as four broods of Variegated Fritillaries (each brood being an egg to adult cycle) may be produced in a season. The normal range of this species is Argentina though northern South America, Central America, Mexico and into the southern United States. They are nomadic rather than having a fixed territory, and are regularly found as far north as southern Canada.
The generic name of the Variegated Fritillary is Euptoieta, derived from the Greek for “scares easily”. I can attest that is not easy to get close to one of them for a good photograph.