Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia)
The Regal Fritillary is a species of large butterflies found in a limited range in the United States. They are known for their very bright color pattern, contrasted with reddish-orange and black, and are seen flying during the summer months. With an alarming decrease in population, the regal fritillaries have been declared as ‘Vulnerable’ or ‘At Risk’ (category G3) by Nature Serve.
Description and Identification
The mature larva of the regal fritillary is either velvety black with yellowish-orange blotches or else, yellow to yellowish orange with black blotches. There are six rows of black bristled spines running down their bodies. The head is black with some orange coloration on the top.
The regal fritillary chrysalis is light mottled brown in appearance with a tinge of pink. There are also some small black spots on the wings and the thorax regions, a few transverse yellow bands on the abdomen, along with short, dorsal cones.
Sexual Dimorphism: Faintly present
Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the dorsal side of the forewings display a bright reddish orange coloration with black markings, whereas the hindwings show a black base color with rows of postmedian white spots. In the male regal fritillaries, the submarginal row of spots is in orange, and in the female, it is white. When the wings are closed, the ventral side of the forewings shows a bright orange color that gradually turns dark towards the edges, while the hind wings are black with white leaf-like spots.
Average wingspan: 68–105 mm (2.7–4.1 in)
Flight pattern: Slow, yet erratic
Cream in color with a conical shape having irregular ridges running from the crown to the base
|Distribution||Only in the east-central regions of the United States|
|Habitat||Tall-grass prairies, wet fields, damp meadows, marshes, and mountain pastures|
|Lifespan of adults||14 to 60 days, depending on climate|
|Host plants||Plants belonging to the violet species including bird’s foot violet|
|Adult diet||Flower nectar especially from milkweeds, thistles, red clover, and mountain mint|
Did You Know?
- While chasing a female, a male regal fritillary is always seen following the former in a circular flying pattern.