Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fritillary finds echinacea

In between downpours - we've had so much welcome rain lately! - a Gulf fritillary butterfly visited the echinacea blooms in my garden.

Echinacea, also known as purple coneflower, sends up tall flower spikes topped by the most beautiful pink-purple blooms.

The coloring of the Gulf fritillary looks like the exact same shades of orange and brownish-black as the echinacea seedhead.

Maybe that's why the fritillary is so drawn to it.  I watched the butterfly check out numerous plants in the garden but it bypassed them all, landing only on purple coneflower blooms.

"I've only got eyes for you."

The Gulf fritillary was drawn to the echinacea blooms for nectar.  As the butterfly sits on top of the flower, it sips sweet fluid through an extremely thin tube (slightly thinner than its legs) called a proboscis.

Butterflies don't have mouths.  When its proboscis is not in use, it is curled up under its head. This straw-like appendage is the only way butterflies can consume food.

I'm fascinated by the way butterflies are able to focus on the exact plants they need to provide themselves with nutrition.

I don't know which is prettier...the butterfly or the blooms.  If I had to pick, I'd have to say, "Both together!"

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