Five of the most common large & medium butterflies in our community.  Article by Jay Paredes, Photos by Jay Paredes and Jake Paredes

We live in a city nicknamed the Butterfly Capital of the World, and although that’s mostly because Butterfly World is the largest butterfly aviary, Coconut Creek has its fair share of beautiful native butterflies. By extension many of those butterflies are represented right here in Regency Lakes. In this article I will give a brief overview of the most common butterflies found here. 

 White Peacock (Anartia jatrophae) – This is perhaps the most common butterfly found in Regency Lakes. They are most readily seen resting on the grass in yards that border a lake. They lay their eggs on the Water Hyssop (Bacopa), a small plant that grows on our lake borders, often hidden between or underneath the St. Augustine grass. During the Dry season (winter) the adults are large and pale, while in the Wet season (summer) they are smaller and darker.

 Monarch (Danaus plexippus) – The monarch is perhaps the most famous of all the butterflies. The caterpillars feed mainly on Milkweed plants. Monarchs have been in the news recently, since their numbers are dwindling due to pesticide use and the loss of milkweed habitat along their migration route to Mexico. In South Florida, the majority of our Monarch population is non-migratory. Here our Monarchs face a different challenge in that many are infected with a parasite known as Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE).

  Queen (Danaus gilippus) – The Queen butterfly is closely related to the Monarch. They are found in the warmer regions of the Americas. The Queen butterfly is much darker in appearance than the Monarch. They also feed on Milkweed and are susceptible to the same OE parasite.

 Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charithonia) – The Zebra Longwing is Florida’s official state butterfly. The caterpillars feed on passion vines, while adults feed on flower nectar and pollen. The addition of pollen to the diet of adult butterflies provides nutrients that allows them to live longer, often up to several months.

 Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) – The first of three bright orange butterflies in our neighborhood. The Gulf Fritillary can be identified by its white spots on the outer wing and black spots on the inner wing. The caterpillars also feed on passion vines. You’ll often see them along with Zebra Longwing caterpillars on the same plant.

This list is far from complete and only shows five of the ten most common of the large and medium sized butterflies in our community. In future articles I’ll cover the smaller varieties and how to attract these butterflies to your garden. If you have any questions about Florida wildlife, you can reach me via e-mail or social media by going to jayparedes.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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