Gulf Fritillary butterflies lay eggs in the sun, either on or near passionvine. They will lay eggs on the plant, a tendril of the plant, a board near the plant, a piece of grass, or anything at all near the plant. An egg will fit inside an "O" on a piece of newspaper - extremely small.
They will even lay eggs on a person's hand
. This was not a 'trained' or 'pet' butterfly. It is simply a butterfly that smelled passionvine on a hand and proceeded to lay eggs on it as a result. Their eggs are yellow when first laid and turn to orange to rust as the caterpillar inside develops and prepares to hatch from the egg.
If a large patch of passionvine is in the area, first check for eggs and caterpillars on and around plants that are not in the larger patch. Female butterflies tend to lay eggs on individual plants rather than in large patches of passionvine. Smaller passionvine or passion flower plants near larger plants are more likely to be visited by Gulf Fritillary female butterflies and as a result, eaten by Gulf Fritillary caterpillars.
Gulf Fritillary caterpillars cannot harm you. Touching them is like touching a stiff hairbrush. They eat passionvine or passion flower leaves. Bright red blooming passionvine is NOT safe food for Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. It will kill them - purple, lavender, white, yellow flowering plants are normally safe for caterpillars.
Other caterpillars you may find on passionvine are Variegated Fritillary
and Zebra Longwing
If passionvine or passion flower is growing in your garden and you cannot find Gulf Fritillary eggs or caterpillars, you can order eggs
from Shady Oak Butterfly Farm