Butterflies of Mexico,
USA & Canada
Great Spangled Fritillary
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
Tribe - ARGYNNINI
male, Massachusetts, USA
© Frank Model
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
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.
occurs across most
of the USA. There are 10 named subspecies.
This species breeds
in damp clearings, meadows and glades in deciduous woodland
habitats, at altitudes between sea level and about 1500m.
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.
mineralised moisture from the ground, or from dung. Both sexes
nectar at a wide range of plants, but are particularly fond of
Rubus and Eupatorium flowers.