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Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Great Spangled Fritillary

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The Great Spangled Fritillary has a different hue in different parts of the continent, raising the level of difficulty in identifying it.

Updated: 01/04/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Apart from Mexico and some southern states in the U.S., the Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly is commonly found everywhere and anywhere. Like other Fritillary butterflies, they are usually orange overall with white spots on the underside of the wing. Some individuals may appear more brown than orange. Though their overall color may be somewhere between orange and brown, the pattern of white spots under the wings and black stripes on top are consistent for the species. When wings are raised, a row of white, triangular spots following closely along the edge is visible. A broad yellowish band of color separates these mini triangles from a brown area closer to the body. On the top side of the wings, the body and the basal area on the wings are brown. Bright yellow-orange flares from this area and covers the rest of the stretched-out forewings. Rows of black dashes, dots, and chevrons border the wings' edges.

Look for them in gardens, parks, roadsides, meadows. They prefer being near a water source. Adults drink nectar from a variety of flower species. Look for them near violets, the preferred food source for larvae. Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars overwinter and feed on the host plant in the spring.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying 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: cybele
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Speyeria cybele
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 62mm to 88mm (2.44" to 3.46")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange; black; yellow; white
Descriptors: flying; spotted; violets

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 62mm (2.4in) and 88mm (3.5in)
Lo: 62mm
Md: 75mm
Hi: 88mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Great Spangled Fritillary 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 Great Spangled Fritillary. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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