Vagrant "Frits" September 4, 2007
It seems like the summer of vagrants. There have been lots of Cloudless Sulphur sightings this summer and the birders have been getting in on the act too. Recently a couple of Red Phalaropes have made for interesting conversation, and White-winged Doves seem to be making regular appearances.
There are a number of butterflies that migrate into Ohio and are seldom seen on some years and far more common in others. The afore mentioned Cloudless Sulphur for one. Common Buckeyes are southerners and this lovely Variegated Fritillary, Euptoieta claudia also wanders north to colonize.
Far more frequently seen in southern Ohio in that magic land of Adams and Scioto counties, they are always bit of eye-candy. I am not sure that I have ever seen one as far north as Columbus. These are a medium sized "Frit" whose under-wings (ventral view) are just as fascinating as the colorful dorsal wings. And just as other Frits, their host plants are in the violet family. Variegateds can also use Passion-flower, a true southern plant, as a host as well.
Fritillary larva hatch out, munch lightly in the fall and pass the winter at the ground surface as a larva. It is interesting how different families of butterflies winter over in different forms: some as eggs, some as larva and a select few as adults... even in Ohio's cold winters. But I am not ready to even think about that. Let's enjoy the butterflies while we still have them.