Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly

(Speyeria cybele)

The Great Spangled Fritillary.

This butterfly Is found throughout the United States, except for the extreme South.

It can also found in extreme southern Canada.

Unlike many other species, there is only one generation each year of the Great Spangled.

This species is on the wing from late spring or early summer into fall.


Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly

The Great Spangled is among the larger fritillaries.

Upper side of the male butterfly are tan to orange with black scales on fore-wing veins. Females are tawny, darker than the male.

Underside of the hind-wings have wide, pale, submarginal band and large silver spots common to fritillaries.

From wing tip to wing tip, this butterfly
measures an attractive 2 and 1/8 to 3 and 3/4 inches.


The Great Spangled is mostly found in moist areas, such as meadows, woods, stream sides and well watered gardens and open fields.


A fast flying butterfly, the Great Spangled is a visitor of milkweed and thistle flowers.

Males will fly around certain area, as they patrol in search of females.

Most fritillary species are highly similar in appearance. For a fritillary to find a mate of its own species, pheromones and smell play a crucial role in mate recognition.

Great Spangled Fritillary Mating, Hosts Plants, and Larvae Stage

A Great Spangled Fritillary male hovers above a female to waft his pheromones over a potential mate. After mating, females sometimes broadcast their eggs while flying over a meadow, not directly depositing them on violets.

Other may direct deposit.

Eggs are laid in late summer on or near host violets. Newly-hatched caterpillars do not feed. Upon hatching, the larva eats its eggshell and immediately begins hibernation.

When spring arrives, baby larvae eat young violet leaves.

Great Spangled Fritillary Larvae

Larvae and Hosts:

Larvae of this butterfly feed on various species of violet (Viola). Yes, wild violets, the ones that can easily take over a garden are hosts to this American beauty.

To attract this butterfly, plant a nice patch of violets, you will want to keep it under control, however.

They are black, with numerous black spines running down the body.

Nectar Plants:

Favorite nectar plants for this Fritillary butterfly are, Gloriosa daisy (Rudbeckia hirta), thistle (Cirsium), verbena (Verbena), Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) and a host of others.

Always offer water for your butterflies in your gardens.

Several species of butterflies will enjoy a drink on the edge of a birdbath or mud-puddle

Great Spangled Fritillary and other Common Butterflies

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