meadow fritillary

(Boloria bellona)

Conservation Status
meadow fritillary
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Meadow fritillary is the most common and the most widespread of the lesser fritillaries (genus Boloria). It is a medium-sized brush-foot butterfly, 1 to 2 in length with a wingspan of 1¼ to 2.

The forewing is squared off below the tip, unlike all other fritillaries which have rounded wing tips. The upper sides of both wings are light orange or yellowish-orange with black dots, chain markings, and jagged lines. The eastern subspecies (B. b. bellona), the only subspecies found in Minnesota, is slightly darker brownish-orange toward the base. The western subspecies (B. b. jenastai and B. b. toddi) are darker orangish-brown toward the base and darker overall. There is a postmedial band of round spots, a submarginal band of flattened spots, and a marginal band of small spots. The submarginal spots are distinctly separated, are not chevron-shaped, and do not point inward. The marginal spots are roughly oval, rectangular, or semicircular, and may point outward. There is usually no black marginal line.

The underside of the forewing is orange in the basal and medial areas, lighter yellowish-orange in the postmedial area. Black markings mirror the markings on the upper side. The subapical area is mottled orange and brown with a pale purple rectangular spot.

The underside of the hindwing is orange near the base and has a pale purplish sheen on the outer half. The purplish sheen may not be apparent on older individuals. There is occasionally a pale purplish spot on the leading edge near the base. Unlike most lesser fritillaries, there are no white or silver spots on the wing undersides.

The caterpillar is less than 1 long. In the early stage it is green and shiny. Mature caterpillars are gray and black. Each abdominal segment has 5 branched, yellowish-brown, spike-like projections (scoli), one on the upper (dorsal) surface, and on each side one in the subdorsal area and one in the spiracular area.

Mature caterpillars are found from April to September.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 1 to 2

Wingspan: 1¼ to 2

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Sedge meadows; moist or dry but not wet grassy fields, hay fields, and pastures; roadsides.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Two broods: Mid-May to June and July to mid-September

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Males patrol low over grassy areas with a slow, zigzagging flight during the day.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The female lays pale greenish-yellow eggs on twigs or leaves of a plant near, but not on, a host violet. The eggs hatch after about 11 days and the larvae search for and begin feeding on a nearby violet. Third or fourth instar caterpillars overwinter. Males emerge before females.

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

Common blue violet (Viola sororia), small white violet (Viola macloskeyi ssp. pallens), and Canadian white violet (Viola canadensis var. rugulosa)

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Nectar of flowers, mostly those in the Asteraceae family, and especially those with yellow flowers.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 20, 21, 22, 29, 30, 71.

 
  7/9/2020      
         
 

The range of meadow fritillary has expanded over the last 500 years as land was cleared for for timber and for pastures and hay meadows. Today, the range continues to expand southward from the southeastern states even as it contracts in the northeast.

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common and widespread

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)  
 

Suborder

Glossata  
 

Infraorder

Heteroneura  
 

Superfamily

Papilionoidea (butterflies)  
 

Family

Nymphalidae (brush-footed butterflies)  
 

Subfamily

Heliconiinae (longwings, fritillaries and silverspots)  
 

Tribe

Argynnini (Fritillaries)  
  Subtribe Argynnina  
 

Genus

Boloria (Lesser Fritillaries)  
  Subgenus Boloria  
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Jenista’s meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona jenastai)

meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona bellona)

meadow fritillary (Boloria bellona toddi)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

meadow fritillary

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Scolus

A spiny, branched projection from a larval body wall, the branches terminating with a single stiff, hair-like or bristle-like tip. Plural: scoli.

 

Spiracle

A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
    meadow fritillary   meadow fritillary  
           
    meadow fritillary   meadow fritillary  
           
    meadow fritillary      
           
 

Underside

 
    meadow fritillary      
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Boloria bellona (Meadow Fritillary)
Allen Chartier
  Boloria bellona (Meadow Fritillary)  
     

 

slideshow

       
 
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Other Videos
 
  Butterflies feasting on Connecticut milkweed
M Haynes
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 5, 2014

Common milkweed patch attracting Meadow Frittilary (Boloria bellona), Skippers or Duskywings, honey and other varieties of bees, flies and some unique wasps. Video recorded by Dan Haynes.

 
  Eastern Meadow fritillary Butterfly in the garden
HowlinJ99's channel
 
   
 
About

Published on Jul 9, 2015

A gorgeous Eastern Meadow Fritillery Butterfly feeding on Gallardia flower. At the end you can see its tongue sucking up nectar.

 
  Meadow Fritillary Butterfly
Carol Snow Milne
 
   
 
About

Published on Apr 30, 2013

Eastern Pennsylvania

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
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