This halberd-leaved violet was the only wildflower in bloom at Savage Gulf yesterday when I led an introductory forestry class on a hike there. In three months this area will be swarming with butterfly enthusiasts, members of the North American Butterfly Association, here to see the rare Diana Fritillary. This butterfly will drink nectar from a large number of flower species, but its caterpillar is partial to violet leaves – in fact that’s all they will eat. The females lay their eggs in the fall near the roots of violets that have died back. The young caterpillars dig down into the earth where they spend the winter. In the spring, just as the violets emerge, so do the caterpillars. Diana Fritillaries are rare, their numbers dwindling because of conversion of forests to other uses.
Violets and Fritillaries