Yesterday, as I was sitting out in the garden having my morning coffee, I noticed a butterfly flitting around in the border at the end of the garden.
Judging by it's general color and size, I assumed it was a Gulf Fritillary, which have been regular visitors in years past.
However, as I got closer, I noticed this one was different. I couldn't identify it, so after taking some photos and watching for a while, I pulled out my Gardener's Butterfly Book to see if I could find out what it was.
I'm pretty sure it's a Question Mark, polygonia interrogationis. I didn't get a good look at the underside, so I didn't see the silvery white mark on the hind wing that identifies the Question Mark butterfly. But everything else seemed to match the photos and description in the book.
It seemed a little bit ragged, with some parts of its hind wings missing, but it didn't seem bothered by that.
The Question Mark butterfly is a resident butterfly that overwinters as a butterfly, taking shelter in hollow trees or brush piles. Their host plants are large trees such as hackberry and sugarberry, and weeds such as nettles.
They are often listed as not visiting flowers but as you can see from my photo, that's not strictly true :-) They nectar on butterfly bush, milkweed and asters. To attract more of them, my book suggests installing a butterfly feeder of overripe fruit. I thought about that, but decided that would be more likely to attract wasps and ants, so I'll hold off on that for now.
Perhaps our ripening grapevine will drop some fruit to keep them happy. We have more than enough to share :-)
Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.