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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Great Spangled Fritillary - Speyeria cybele

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status

External Links

General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 3.5-4.7 cm. One of the largest great fritillaries. Eyes yellow-green. Upperside of males tan to orange with black spotting (lighter black spotting especially near wing borders) and black scales on forewing veins, females tawny and darker than males; underside of wings with a wide cream-colored submarginal band, on females the band between postmedian silver spots and submarginal silver spots, on males with a cinnamon disk basal to the pale submarginal band.

One flight; mostly mid-June to mid-September, primarily July to August in the west (Scott 1986); late June to late August in southern British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001); early June to early September in the Pacific Northwest (Pyle 2002).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best distinguished by size, yellow-green eyes, and underside of hindwings with a wide cream-colored submarginal band.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
British Columbia east across southern Canada to Nova Scotia, south to central California (Sierra Nevada), northern New Mexico (Rocky Mountains), central Arkansas, and northern Georgia (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to 1000 m elevation in southern British Columbia (Guppy and Dhepard 2001), to 2745 m elevation in Colorado (Brown 1957). State wide in Montana (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Locally common to common in the west south to Oregon, Idaho, and Montana; rare to uncommon southward (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 29

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)


Moist deciduous woods, meadows, oak-pine glades, riparian areas, post-glacial grasslands, aspen parkland (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002). Xeric montane meadows in Glacier National Park, Montana (Debinski 1993); meadows, streamsides, prairies, roadsides, aspen stands in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (Debinski and Pritchard 2002).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Viola (Scott 1986, 1992; Guppy and Shepard 2001; Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Agastache, Apocynum, Asclepias, Buddleja, Carduus, Cirsium, Echinacea, Erigeron, Helianthus, Medicago, Monarda, Nepeta, Trifolium), dung, and tree sap (from surface of Quercus leaves) (Scott 1986, 2014: Pyle 2002; James and Nunnallee 2011).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly and haphazardly near base of dead or dying host plant, mostly in late summer. Eggs hatch in 10-12 days (depending on temperature), then L1 larvae congregate under cover and diapause (overwinter). Post diapause development from L1 to pupation averages 44 days (females about 7 days longer than males); adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in 13-19 days. Larvae feed at night and solitarily, seeking cover during day under leaves, rocks, other debris; larvae do not make nests (Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol throughout the day seeking females (Scott 1986).

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Citation for data on this website:
Great Spangled Fritillary — Speyeria cybele.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from