Photo by Pete Gilmore

The Great Spangled Fritillary is the most common fritillary butterfly in the northeastern U.S. It is relatively large, up to four inches, with orange to tawny brown wings that have a delicate pattern of markings and spots. The female is darker in color and appears later in the season. Adults frequent open woodlands, meadows and fields, and they feed on nectar from milkweeds, thistles, mint, dogbane and mountain laurel. Eggs are laid in late summer in close proximity to violets. Newly-hatched larvae over-winter and begin feeding on young violet leaves in springtime. The larvae are black and covered with large spines that have yellow bases, a deterrent against predators. For further protection, the pupae resemble dried leaves.

More information

Nature of New England


Butterflies and Moths of North America