The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 2, 2002


Biodiversity Corner Great Spangled Fritillary

Photo by Ellen Huber
Name: Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria cybele, a member of the Nymphalidae or brush-footed butterflies.

When and where seen: The butterfly was spotted by Ellen Huber early in July on the Artemesia in her garden on Partridge Lane. The caterpillar photo was taken on May 11 in my garden on School Street.

Identification: The butterfly has orange wings with many black markings on the upper surface, including a row of black dots and black crescents near the edge. The undersurface of the wings is brownish orange with very noticeable silver spots or 'spangles'. There are no spangles on the upper surface. The wing span ranges from 2

Range: Coast to coast in North America. In the east, its northern boundary is in southern Quebec and the southern boundary is around the northern part of Georgia.

Habitat: In the east it can be seen in gardens, moist meadows and deciduous woods. They are known to prefer nectar from tall plants like black-eyed Susans, thistles, joe-pye weed, and milkweed. I often see them on the Coreopsis in the garden. Around late August and September the female lays her eggs on or near violets which are the food for the caterpillars of this and other fritillaries. In any habitat with violets you are quite likely to see a Great Spangled Fritillary.

References: Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies, Robert Michael Pyle.

Submissions for the Biodiversity Corner are encouraged from everyone. Please feel free to write up your favorite species. The only requirements are that it exists in the wild and was seen in Carlisle. If you have a mystery species and want help with identification, send a photo and some field notes to Kay Fairweather at 392 School St, Carlisle MA 01741 or to

2002 The Carlisle Mosquito