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Passionflower Vines are the Only Game in Town for Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars

I realize I'm starting my Nurture Native Nature blog by writing a handful of posts on the same subject. I’m a bit obsessive so thoroughness is part of my style, but in this case, it’s intentional. I have so much to say about passionflower vine (passiflora incarnata) because it’s helped me understand the importance just one plant can have on our local environment….and hopefully it will help anyone who is just starting out gardening for nature, not man.

The only leaf the gulf fritillary caterpillars will eat is from the passionflower vine (passiflora incarnata).

If you want to add a vine to your landscape with the goal to have a big impact nurturing nature in your yard, plant the only host plant for gulf fritillary caterpillars: purple passionflower vine (passiflora incarnata).

The. Only. Host. Plant.

My native passionflower vine (passiflora incarnata) offers a feast for gulf fritillary caterpillars, can you see all four?

This means the impact of planting passionflower vine will directly nurture the abundance and survival of gulf fritillary butterflies in your area. The most important thing to look for when buying a passionflower vine is to find the native passionflower (passiflora incarnata) from a native plant nursery, NOT one of the tropical passionflower hybrids found at traditional nurseries. A gulf fritillary may still lay its eggs on a non-native vine (common non-native names: passiflora caerulea or biflora), but the caterpillars (cats) will die because they can’t eat the tropical vines.

Gulf fritillary butterfly resting on a coneflower (echinacea) seedhead in the fall

I can promise the gulf fritillaries will find a passionflower vine if it's planted in a chemical free yard (pesticides will kill the butterflies and their cats). From late summer until early November here in Georgia gulf fritillary butterflies are dancing around my yard every day creating generations of cats munching away on my passiflora incarnata. If everyone planted just one passionflower vine somewhere on their property, imagine what an enchanting sight it would be to see gulf fritillaries flitting from yard to yard from August until November!


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Aug 14, 2023

Just found a caterpillar on my vine!


Aug 12, 2023

Will they kill the vine or can you still get plenty of fruit?

Sep 03, 2023
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Most of the flowers have set fruit in late summer when the gulf fritillary caterpillars start munching away so I think there's a window to harvest the fruit before giving the vines over to the caterpillars. (I don't harvest the fruit and there are still tons of maypops on the vines now even though they are also covered in caterpillars).

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