The common name Fritillary comes from a Latin word, fritillus, which means chessboard or dice box. Fritillary is also the name of a flower with an interesting checkered pattern; it is obvious that both the flower and the butterfly get their common name because of such pattern.
There are fourteen species of the so-called greater fritillaries (genus Speyeria) and sixteen lesser fritillaries (genus Bolloria). The greater fritillaries are larger than the lesser ones as their name indicates. Some of them are very hard to tell apart and when seen in flight it is easy to make mistakes.
Their caterpillars are very selective about what they eat. They do not go for Milkweeds as do Monarchs; they prefer Violets instead. Without Violets, there would be no fritillaries.
The adults, on the other hand are thirsty for nectar of many native flowers, such as Mints, Butterfly Weed, Common Milkweed, Joe-pye-weed and others; but they do not hesitate to visit some non-native flowers such as Lilacs, Butterfly Bush and some Thistles. In general they prefer long tubular flowers, but they can also use some easy to reach, more open flowers.
The females emit an enticing aroma called a pheromone that attracts males. The adults mate in the summer; afterwards sometimes females take a nap of a few weeks, called diapause. They emerge from diapause in late summer and lay their eggs near patches of Violets. Female Great Spangled Fritillaries seem to be able to find the Violets even after they have wilted and blown away. It is possible that they can smell the roots of Violets.
* There are fourteen known subspecies of Greater Fritillaries, and sixteen known subspecies of Lesser Fritillaries.
Avg. Wing Span: 6.2 - 8.8 cm / 2.44 - 3.46"
Diet: adults take nectar from Lantana Butterfly Bush, Zinnia, Aster, Thistle, Verbena, and others.
Host Plants: Passion Vine and Passion Flower
Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta, Order: Lepidoptera