Regal Fritillary - Speyeria idalia
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001] Forewing 4.2-4.7 cm. Large. Body brownish-black. Uppersurface of forewing reddish-orange with ornate black markings, hindwing velvety black with a postmendian row of white spots and a submarginal row of whitish spots in female, orangish in male; undersurface of forewing similar to uppersurface, hindwing dark and slightly greenish-brown, many elongate whitish spots, lacking pale subterminal band.
One flight; June to early September (Scott 1986). Mainly mid-June to mid-September (Glassberg 2001). Early June to mid-September in northeastern Kansas (Kopper at al. 2011a).
Best determined by the large size, body brownish-black, uppersurface of forewing reddish-orange with ornate black markings, hindwing velvety black with a postmendian row of white spots and a submarginal row of whitish spots in female, orangish in male, undersurface of hindwing dark brown with many elongate whitish spots.
Formerly Manitoba south through plains to central Colorado, Kansas, northeastern Oklahoma, Missouri, and in east from New Brunswick south the northwestern North Carolina. Now rare or absent from areas east of Mississippi River; primarily restricted to midgrass and tall-grass prairie and preserves of the central Great Plains (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Kopper et al. 2000; Glassberg 2001). In Montana, documented in the late 19th century from Custer County (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993). Rare to uncommon in the west (Glassberg 2001).
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Non-migratory; some irregular dispersal westward (Scott 1986) perhaps tied to annual precipitation fluctuations.
Wet meadows, undisturbed prairie near marshes, dry to mesic tallgrass prairie, shortgrass prairie, restored prairie (Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Debinski and Babbit 1997; Swengel 1997; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001). Habitat in Montana not described, but likely similar.
Larval food plants include several species of Viola (Scott 1986; Swengel 1997). Adults feed on flower nectar, including Apocynum, Asclepias, Calyophus, Carduus, Centaurea, Chrysanthemum, Cirsium, Cornus, Coronilla, Dianthus, Echinacea, Eryngium, Helianthus, Liatris, Lobelia, Medicago, Monarda, Pycnanthemum, Rhus, Rubus, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Shrankia, Trifolium, Vernonia, and Veronica (Kopper et al. 2001a; Tooker et al. 2002; Scott 2014).
Females lay eggs singly in shaded sites of grass and forbs near the ground, usually on the undersides of dead vegetation, often near larval food plant but never on it. Larvae build no nests; overwinter (hibernate) as L1 instars (Scott 1986; Kopper et al. 2000, 2001a). Males patrol low (10-50 cm) above the ground for distances of 5-30 m throughout the day in search of females, circling back 1-2 m above ground and repeating the low upwind flight; both sexes take the role of flight while copulating; females mate once, experience a post-mating reproductive diapause before initiating egg-laying (Scott 1986; Kopper et al. 2001a, 2001b).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Debinski, D.M. and A.M. Babbit. 1997. Butterfly species in native prairie and restored prairie. Prairie Naturalist 29:219-227.
- Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds). 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountains. Univ. of Oklahoma Press. Norman. 442 pp.
- Glassberg, J. 2001. Butterflies through Binoculars: A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America. Oxford University Press.
- Kohler, S. 1980. Checklist of Montana Butterflies (Rhopalocera). Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 34(1): 1-19.
- Kopper, B.J., D.C. Margolies, and R.E. Charlton. 2001a. Life history notes on the Regal Fritillary, Speyeria idalia (Drury) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), in Kansas tallgrass prairie. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 74(3): 172-177.
- Kopper, B.J., R.E. Charlton, and D.C.Margolies. 2000. Oviposition site selection by the Regal Fritillary, Speyeria idalia, as affected by proximity to violet host plants. Journal of Insect Conservation 13(5): 651-665.
- Kopper, B.J., S. Shu, R.E. Charlton, and S.B. Ramaswamy. 2001b. Evidence for reproductive diapause in the fritillary Speyeria idalia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America 94(3): 427-432.
- Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright. 1999. A field guide to western butterflies. Second edition. Peterson Field Guides. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 540 pp.
- Opler, P.A. and A.D. Warren. 2002. Scientific names list for butterfly species of North America, north of Mexico. C.P Gillette Museum of Arthropod Diversity, Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 pp.
- Scott, J.A. 1986. The butterflies of North America: a natural history and field guide. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.
- Scott, J.A. 2014. Lepidoptera of North America 13. Flower visitation by Colorado butterflies (40,615 records) with a review of the literature on pollination of Colorado plants and butterfly attraction (Lepidoptera: Hersperioidea and Papilionoidea). Contributions of the C.P. Gillette Museum of Arthopod Diversity. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 190 p.
- Stanford, R.E. and P.A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of western USA butterflies: including adjacent parts of Canada and Mexico. Unpubl. Report. Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado 275 pp.
- Swengel, A.B. 1997. Habitat associations of sympatric violet-eating fritillaries (Euptoeita, Speyeria, Boloria)(Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) in tallgrass prairie. Great lakes Entomologist 30(1/2): 1-18.
- Tooker, J.F., P.F. Reagel, and L.M. Hanks. 2002. Nectar sources of day-flying lepidoptera of central Illinois. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 95(1): 84-96.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Allen, T.J., J.P. Brock, and J. Glassberg. 2005. Caterpillars in the field and garden: a field guide to the butterfly caterpillars of North America. Oxford University Press.
- Brock, J.P. and K. Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY 284 pp.
- Layberry, R.A., P.W. Hall, and J.D. LaFontaine. 1998. The Butterflies of Canada. University of Toronto Press. 280 pp. + color plates.
- Scott, J.A. 1979. Hibernal diapause of North American Papilionoidea and Hesperioidea. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera 18(3): 171-200.
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