Butterfly and Milk Thistle

A Gulf fritillary inches its way closer to a milk thistle in a quiet Crystal River field. These butterflies are a common site across the South and begin as a single egg laid on a host plant where it will stay for 4 to 8 days, according to the University of Florida. 

According to the University of Florida, the Gulf fritillary is a medium-size butterfly with elongated forewings. Adults have a wingspan range of 65mm to 95 mm. Females are generally larger than males. The upper surface of the wings is bright orange with black markings. Females are somewhat darker and more extensively marked. The forewing cell contains three black-rimmed white spots. The undersides of the wings are brown with elongated silvery-white spots. The butterflies are found in all 67 Florida counties.

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Contact Chronicle Photo Editor Matthew Beck at 352-564-2919 or mbeck@chronicleonline.com.