Butterflies of Mexico, USA & Canada
Zerene Fritillary
Speyeria zerene  BOISDUVAL, 1852
subfamily - HELICONIINAE
subtribe -
Speyeria zerene male, Shoshone national forest, Wyoming, 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 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 zerene occurs in British Columbia, and in  the western states of the USA. There are 15 named subspecies.
This species breeds on coastal dunes, sagebrush, and in dry meadows and coniferous woodlands.
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 peppered with tiny white dots and has a pair of broken white dorsal lines along the back, It has black dorsal spikes, and 2 rows of white lateral spikes, tipped with black. 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 damp patches of ground. Both sexes nectar at a variety of flowers, but particularly favour Centaurea and Aster.


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