Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Northwestern Fritillary
Speyeria hesperis  EDWARDS, 1864
subfamily - HELICONIINAE
subtribe -
Speyeria hesperis beani male, Castle Junction, Alberta, Canada Chris Orpin
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, although these are barely discernible in aphrodite. In females the ground colour is more subdued, typically pale buff coloured with a slight greenish tinge. In both sexes the underside fore-wings are similar to the uppersides. On the underside, the hindwings of most species are spangled with numerous large silver ( or sometimes yellow ) spots.
Speyeria hesperis occurs in the USA in the Rocky Mountains and Big Horn Mountains. In Canada it occurs in British Colombia and Alberta. There are 21 named subspecies.
Speyeria hesperis breeds in forest edge habitats and woodland clearings, in meadows and glades, often in the vicinity of streams.
The eggs are pale yellow when first laid but later turn brownish. They are laid singly on dry stems in the vicinity of the larval foodplants. The larva 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 dark brown with black mottling on the thorax and abdomen. It is suspended by the cremaster from a stem.
Adult behaviour
Both sexes nectar at a wide range of flowers but favour Aster, Cirsium and Carduus.
Speyeria hesperis female, Teton Pass, Wyoming, USA Frank Model


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