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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Mormon Fritillary - Argynnis mormonia

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status


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General Description
[From Ferris and Brown 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002] Forewing 2.3-2.7 cm. Small; forewing apex rounded, antennae clubs relatively large and rounded. Uppersurface orange or tawny-ochre with black markings, black marginal chains enclosing pale spots, forewing without black scaling on veins; undersurface pale, hindwing disk pale yellow to pale brown, sometimes tinged with green or strong green tones; spots on hindwing relatively small, silvered or pale yellow.

One flight, mid-July to early September in the south, July to August in the north (Scott 1986). Mainly July to August, but June to September in California (Glassberg 2001); mid-July to early September in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001); early June to mid-October in Oregon and Washington (Pyle 2002).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Best determined by a combination of small size, rounded forewing apex, uppersurface of forewing without black scaling on veins, pale undersurface ground color with relatively small silver or pale spots on hindwing.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Western mountains, from south-central Alaska south and east to Manitoba and the Dakotas (including the Black Hills), south to central California, eastern Nevada, southeastern Arizona, and northern New Mexico (Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001); to at least 3962 m elevation in Colorado (Scott and Scott 1978), 2300 m elevation in British Columbia (Guppy and Shepard 2001). In Montana, reported from the western 2/3 of the state (Kohler 1980; Stanford and Opler 1993), to at least 3300 m elevation in the Beartooth Mountains (Hendricks 1986). Mainly common to abundant (Glassberg 2001).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 132

(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)

Non-migratory, but may fly far and stray from montane areas to foothills and plains (Scott and Scott 1978; Scott 1986).

Exposed montane meadows, wet or boggy meadows, forest edges, moist prairie, sagebrush, above treeline in alpine terrain (Ferris and Brown 1981; Hammond 1981; Scott 1986; Opler and Wright 1999; Glassberg 2001; Pyle 2002). In Glacier National Park, Montana reported from montane xeric and mesic meadows, and above treeline in alpine terrain (Debinski 1993); in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in alpine tundra and fellfield (Hendricks 1986; Debinski and Pritchard 2002).

Food Habits
Larval food plants include several species of Viola (Hammond 1981; Scott 1986; Guppy and Shepard 2001; James and Nunnallee 2011). Adults feed on flower nectar (including Achillea, Agoseris, Arenaria, Arnica, Aster, Carduus, Chrysothamnus, Dryas, Erigeron, Eriogonum, Gaillardia, Geranium, Haplopappus, Heterotheca, Hymenoxys, Medicago, Potentilla, Rudbeckia, Senecio, Solidago, Taraxacum, Trifolium) and mud (Scott 1986, 2014).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females lay eggs singly and haphazardly on dead stems, undersides of dried leaves, close to the ground, in litter near the host plant or on another plant species (Scott 1992, 2006). Eggs hatch in about 10 days (depending on temperature), L1 instar seeks refuge in curled host plant leaves and overwinter. Development from L2 instar to L6 and pupation takes about 44 days; adults eclose (emerge from pupae) in about another 18 days (depending on temperature). Larvae mostly nocturnal, build no nests; mature larvae silk leaves together to create tents, where pupation occurs close to the ground (Scott 1986; James and Nunnallee 2011). Males patrol throughout the day in open areas (meadows at lower elevations) near the ground in search of females (Scott 1975b, 1986).

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Citation for data on this website:
Mormon Fritillary — Argynnis mormonia.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from