Q: Recently my son noticed some orange, spiked caterpillars in our backyard. He wanted to see what they would turn into so he set up a habitat for them and then waited. Sure enough they hatched not long after into beautiful butterflies. We would love to know what kind of caterpillar/butterfly it is.
A: You have a Gulf fritillary butterfly. The orange caterpillar has spikes along its back that put Sid Vicious to shame. It feeds almost exclusively on the leaves of passionvine. One of the best online sources for insect identification is E-Nature but I have also used The Butterfly Website.
Gulf fritillary butterfly