Caption: Photo by Paul and Mary Meredith
A Gulf Fritillary caterpillar has grown to full size on a diet of noxious passion flower (passiflora) leaves. It is in the process of changing to a pupa. Gluing its tail to a protected surface with silk from a gland on its head, it takes on a characteristic “J” shape, growing a dull skin under the old one, which it sheds. It loses its spikes, and its bright orange coloration with black stripes that say “Don’t eat me, I taste bad.” In half an hour, it will be totally defenseless and look like a dried leaf stuck to the surface. In a week or so, depending on temperature, its skin will split again and a butterfly will emerge. Inflating brilliant-orange wings with striking silver spots on its under-wings, it’s ready to fly, find a mate, and start the cycle of life again.
Album ID: 1462861
Photo ID: 41989241
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