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Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Great Spangled Fritillary

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.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Speyeria
  • Scientific Name: Speyeria cybele

Description and Identification


Great Spangled Fritillary Caterpillar

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.


Great Spangled Fritillary Chrysalis

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.

Adult Butterfly

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.

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly
Speyeria cybele

Average wingspan: 62 to 88 mm (2.4 to 3.5 in)

Flight pattern: Medium speed almost in a straight line


Great Spangled Fritillary Eggs

Faint grayish-white in color; laid one at a time on host leaves

Quick Facts

DistributionCover 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
HabitatMostly prefer woodland edges and moist meadows
Lifespan of adultsMaximum 30 to 45 days
Host plantsVarious species of violet (viola) flower
Adult dietFlower 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’.
Male Great Spangled Fritillary
Female Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary Images

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Nymphalidae
  • Genus: Speyeria
  • Scientific Name: Speyeria cybele
Published by Avatar on March 19, 2019.
Last Updated: December 19, 2019. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team