Great Spangled Fritillary Butterflies

by Pat Jaquith

Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies on Musk Thistle (Carduus Nutans) 8..02.2020

The male of this species is bright orange and brown; the female is brown with a patterned cream-colored border. The host plant for the Fritillary caterpillars is the violet. That’s where the female will lay her eggs, so you may see her spending a lot of her 14 – 45 day life seeking out violets. The eggs hatch in 10 to 15 days. The caterpillar will feed on violet leaves and overwinter in the protection of vegetation near violets; in spring it will continue to munch on the new violet leaves until it forms a chrysalis. It goes through its final transformation in about 2 to 3 weeks before hatching out as a butterfly.