Great Spangled Fritillary

Speyeria cybele
Nymphalidae (brushfooted butterflies)

Adults are rusty orange with black or dark brown markings; the base of the wings is somewhat darker. The undersides of the hindwings have prominent silvery white spots on a dark brown background, with a tan band along the outer portion.

Larvae are black, with black spines that are yellowish orange at the base; the head is nearly black with some orange across the top.

Wingspan: 2½–3½ inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Found in prairies, fields, open woodland edges, wet meadows and residential areas.
Larvae feed on plants in the genus Viola—the violets and their relatives. The adults visit a great variety of flowers, including many types of coneflower, thistle, milkweed, ironweed, dogbane, verbena and more.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Common breeding resident.
Life cycle: 
Adults fly from mid-May through early October. Males emerge two or three weeks before females. Female butterflies generally mate very soon after emerging. Great Spangled Fritillary females tend to mate only once, so early-emerging males have an advantage over later-emerging males. Eggs are laid in the fall, the caterpillars hatch, overwinter, then resume eating in the spring, when its food plant, violets, are at their peak.
Human connections: 
Who doesn’t like butterflies? Butterfly gardening is a booming hobby, with a well-defined sector of the landscaping and horticultural industries booming along with it. Garden centers often have special sections devoted to “netting” butterfly gardeners.
Ecosystem connections: 
The caterpillars are herbivores that graze on vegetation. The adults serve a role in pollination. All stages provide food for predators.
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