Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)
The Great Spangled Fritillary is an American butterfly species spread in nine local subspecies. They are known for their characteristic orange, tan or tawny coloration and are seen active between mid-June and mid-September.
Description and Identification
The caterpillar has a jet black body with spine-like structures all over that are also black with an orange spot at the bases. The newly-hatched larvae do not feed but overwinter until the arrival of spring, when they consume the young leaves of the violet.
The chrysalis has the shape of a shelled peanut with a chestnut black or brown coloration along with faint orange markings on the glossy body.
Sexual Dimorphism: Present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side of the male displays a characteristic tan to orange base color marked with black scales on the veins of the forewings, whereas the females exhibit a rather tawny and darker shade than the males. When the wings are closed, the ventral side of the hindwings shows a wide but pale submarginal band along with pronounced silver spots.
Average wingspan: 62 to 88 mm (2.4 to 3.5 in)
Flight pattern: Medium speed almost in a straight line
Faint grayish-white in color; laid one at a time on host leaves
|Distribution||Cover a wide range of North America starting from the south of Canada to the northern parts of California on the west to the east to North Carolina|
|Habitat||Mostly prefer woodland edges and moist meadows|
|Lifespan of adults||Maximum 30 to 45 days|
|Host plants||Various species of violet (viola) flower|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar especially from milkweeds, thistles, purple coneflower, vetch, bergamot, ironweed, dogbane, mountain laurel, verbena, joe-pye weed, and red clover|
Did You Know?
- Back in 1985, Cocteau Twins, a Scottish music band, released a song called Great Spangled Fritillary as the first of the three tracks,each of which bore a name influenced by the scientific ‘order’ of butterflies ‘Lepidoptera’.