Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

How I was engulfed in happiness while I fritillaried away my time

with 41 comments

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly on Maximilian Sunflower 6972

This handsome butterfly is a gulf fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, that I found frequenting some Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, on October 1 at the intersection of Greenlawn Blvd. and Interstate 35 in Round Rock just north of the border with Austin.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 9, 2015 at 4:37 AM

41 Responses

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  1. Hmmm….there’s a word for this…ah, perfection. 🙂 A flower, a bud and a pristine butterfly. Couldn’t ask for much more.

    Steve Gingold

    October 9, 2015 at 4:52 AM

    • I was glad to be able to include a bud, something that’s often easy to do with Maximilian sunflowers. As for pristine, the rays of the sunflower weren’t, thanks to the depredation of some insect (perhaps a cucumber beetle).

      Your last sentence reminded me of the refrain of the Gershwins’ song “I Got Rhythm,” with its questioning refrain “Who could ask for anything more?”

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2015 at 6:06 AM

  2. Made for each other.


    October 9, 2015 at 5:48 AM

  3. Thank you for increasing my vocabulary, Steve. I googled fritillaried to see if it was an actual word and I came across a few poems which used it. One by W. R. Rodgers was quite lovely. Here is a little part of it:

    “But only inkling streams and running fronds,
    Fritillaried with dreams, weedy with wishes;
    Nor arrogant talk is heard, haggling phrase,
    But undertones, and hesitance, and haze.”

    Anyway, a clever play on words for a beautiful image, indeed. 🙂


    October 9, 2015 at 6:32 AM

    • You did my homework for me, Jane. I was just engaging in my usual sort of wordplay (fritter away ~ fritillary away). English is quite loose in letting one part of speech function as another, but I never imagined someone else would have used fritillary as a verb. I checked a bunch of dictionaries just now and found that none of them give a use of the word as a verb. I agree with you that the stanza you found is lovely. And what a great alliterative phrase: “weedy with wishes.” Thanks for the find.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2015 at 6:44 AM

    • I see that W.R. Rodgers was an Irish poet who lived from 1909–1969. For readers who would like the full poem, it’s available at:


      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2015 at 7:05 AM

  4. Nice color combination. And I like how some wing ribs end in a dark spot, those toward the outer parts.

    Jim in IA

    October 9, 2015 at 7:07 AM

    • When it comes to the color combination, we can say that orange and yellow delight a fellow—and you’re that fellow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2015 at 7:19 AM

  5. Lovely juxtaposition of nature’s bounty…


    October 9, 2015 at 9:03 AM

  6. Engulfed in gorgeousness


    October 9, 2015 at 2:09 PM

  7. Knockout combinations, title and photo both!

    Susan Scheid

    October 9, 2015 at 2:18 PM

  8. How I love these!

    Maria F.

    October 9, 2015 at 3:17 PM

  9. While I was looking for information about the Gulf fritillary’s range, I learned that one of the things adults like to feed on are composites, and the Maximilian sunflower certainly qualifies in that regard. I really like the way the bracts encircling the bud and the lines on the butterfly’s wings echo one another.

    Speaking of being engulfed in happiness, I certainly was today, when I heard and then saw some early autumn geese. They were flying high, in a big, asymmetrical V, headed southwest, and they were just as clear as your photo. It seems my distance vision is doing just fine.


    October 9, 2015 at 8:42 PM

    • How perceptive of you to note the harmony between the curves of the bud bracts and the lines on the butterfly’s wings.

      Happy far-vision happiness exemplified in the clear V for victory you saw in the high-flying geese.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2015 at 9:00 PM

  10. A stunning capture, colourful and happy😀


    October 9, 2015 at 10:02 PM

    • I’m happy to send this colorful and happy (and warm) picture to you up north in the land of cold.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 9, 2015 at 10:15 PM

  11. Oh Steve it’s stunning!

  12. Ha! Are we on the same wavelength? As if I hadn’t shared enough of my photos with you already, here’s mine, directly underneath the hummingbird feeder, for which I was camped with the camera a couple of weeks back. https://dirtnkids.smugmug.com/House-Nature/i-n9579h3/A

    The ventral side of the GF is more striking, I think, but they rarely pose for me that way. Do you have any in your catalog? Perhaps I should try a site search…


    October 10, 2015 at 2:40 PM

    • That is a coincidence. It looks like your fritillary is near some blackfoot daisies (and perhaps some mealy blue sage farther back).

      I see you’ve already found the ventral view of a GF, and I can appreciate why you prefer it to the dorsal view. I like both (as you probably do too).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 6:20 PM

      • Daisies are right, but salvia is the blue in the background. I used that same photograph with a favorite quote in a post today.

        I saw the most stunning photo recently of a question mark with the lavender glistening around the wings. Wish I could find it now…


        October 10, 2015 at 9:00 PM

        • Mealy blue sage is Salvia farinacea, so I was in the ballpark.

          Yes, I saw the picture in the current post (and just left a comment).

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 10, 2015 at 9:10 PM

  13. Brilliant coloring, gorgeously bold: no wonder you were bedazzled.


    October 18, 2015 at 9:33 PM

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