Sunday, December 12, 2010

Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly ( Speyeria cybele )

Family: Brush-footed Butterflies (Nymphalidae)

Subfamily: Longwings (Heliconiinae)

Identification: Large. Upperside of male tan to orange with black scales on forewing veins; female tawny, darker than male. Underside of hindwingwith wide pale submarginal band and large silver spots. 

Life history: Males patrol open areas for females. Eggs are laid in late summer on or near host violets. Newly-hatched caterpillars do not feed, butoverwinter until spring, when they eat young violet leaves. 

Flight: One brood from mid-June to mid-September.

Wing span: 2 1/2 - 4 inches (6.3 - 10.1 cm). 

Caterpillar hosts: Various violet species (Viola). 

Adult food: Nectar from many species of flowers including milkweeds, thistles, ironweed, dogbane, mountain laurel, verbena, vetch, bergamot, red clover, joe-pye weed, and purple coneflower. 

Habitat: Open, moist places including fields, valleys, pastures, right-of-ways, meadows, open woodland, prairies. 

Range: Alberta east to Nova Scotia, south to central California, New Mexico, central Arkansas, and northern Georgia. Comments: The most common fritillary throughout most of the eastern United States. 

Conservation: Not usually required. 

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