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Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Great Spangled Fritillary
Speyeria cybele  FABRICIUS, 1775
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - HELICONIINAE
Tribe - ARGYNNINI
subtribe -
Speyeria cybele male, Massachusetts, USA Frank Model
Introduction
There are 16 species in the genus Speyeria, all of which are found in the USA. Only 2 species have ranges that extend beyond the USA - hydaspe which reaches Canada, and nokomis which reaches central Mexico.
All Speyeria species are large and noble butterflies. Males of most taxa have bright golden-orange uppersides marked with black spots, and dark streaks of androconial scales along the veins of the forewings. In females the ground colour is more subdued, typically pale buff coloured with a slight greenish tinge. In both sexes the underside forewings are similar to the uppersides. The underside hindwings of most species are adorned with numerous large silver spangles.
Speyeria cybele occurs across most of the USA. There are 10 named subspecies.
Habitats
This species breeds in damp clearings, meadows and glades in deciduous woodland habitats, at altitudes between sea level and about 1500m.
Lifecycle
The egg is laid singly on dry stems or among leaf litter in the vicinity of the larval foodplants. The caterpillar hatches in late summer and immediately enters hibernation. It awakens in early spring and feeds on tender young leaves of Viola ( Violaceae ). The fully grown larva is black with yellow dorsal and lateral spikes. The pupa is blackish, and is suspended by the cremaster from a woody stem or twig in the shade of a bush or tree.
Adult behaviour
Males imbibe mineralised moisture from the ground, or from dung. Both sexes nectar at a wide range of plants, but are particularly fond of Cirsium, Carduus, Rubus and Eupatorium flowers.
 

 

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