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Aphrodite Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria aphrodite)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Aphrodite Fritillary Butterfly

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Image Credit: Aaron Carlson from Menomonie, WI, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]
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Image Credit: Camille T., taken in Angel Fire, NM
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Image Credit: Camille T., taken in Angel Fire, NM
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A garden filled with violets, milkweed and thistles will tempt an Aphrodite Fritillary in any stage of life while keeping future generations interested for years to come.

Updated: 01/17/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, pleasure and beauty. The Aphrodite Fritillary is a lovely summertime butterfly that produces one brood each year. It has many close relatives that look very similar to it making identification somewhat of a challenge. To complicate things, males and females are different sizes, and hues vary in different regions of the continent. The yellow-green eyes of the Aphrodite Fritillary offer a fast way to eliminate almost all relatives. The Great Spangled Fritillary and Atlantis Fritillary share Aphrodite's range and also have yellow-green eyes, but they are much larger and smaller (respectively) than the medium-sized Aphrodite.

Males Aphrodite Fritillary Butterflies are smaller than females, and may have a two week head start in life. They actively search for females during warm parts of the day. After mating, females can be seen walking on the ground near violets where they lay fertilized eggs at a rate of about one per plant. The caterpillar that hatches from these eggs eats the leaves off many types of violets in late summer. Its body is black and segments are studded with long rows of bristles from head to rear. These bristles may be black or yellow. It retreats in a shelter of leaves for the winter and emerges again in the spring when violets begin growing. They will pupate for two to three weeks in early summer.

Adults are mostly orange with black markings on the tops of the wings. Light brown hairs cover the body and extend over the base of the wings. The underside of the wings is light brown with a lighter border at the bottom edge. It is covered with various sizes of white spots. They can be seen drinking nectar from a variety of wildflowers. Milkweed, dogbane, thistle, and Joe Pye weed are popular flowering plants that feed adults. Meadows, fields, woods, marshes, bogs, prairies and barren land are all home to the Aphrodite Fritillary. Various elevations also suit this species, so high ranges and mountains are also comfortable habitats for this butterfly.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Helpful insect icon
Patterned insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Speyeria
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            Species: aphrodite

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Speyeria aphrodite
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 55mm to 80mm (2.16" to 3.14")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange; black; white; silver
Descriptors: flying; helpful; spotted

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 55mm (2.2in) and 80mm (3.1in)
Lo: 55mm
Md: 67.5mm
Hi: 80mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Aphrodite Fritillary Butterfly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Aphrodite Fritillary Butterfly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

Similar Insects

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