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Variegated Fritillary Butterfly (Euptoieta claudia)


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



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Image Credit: Don M. from IN
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Image Credit: Kevin K., taken in the mid-Altantic region of the U.S.
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Image Credit: Edwin G., taken in La Junta, Colorado.
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Image Credit: Kevin K., taken in the mid-Altantic region of the U.S.
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Image Credit: Don M. from IN
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The Variegated Fritillary looks like so many others, but a pale spot and tan underwing help differentiate it in the field.



Updated: 09/10/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Variegated Fritillary is a common butterfly seen in every country in North America. It has a pattern similar to many other Fritillaries, but this species has a light spot rimmed in black on its ?shoulder?, near the head. The area near the body is usually a darker shade of orange-brown than by the wing edges. A paler band runs across the middle of the wings. Single black dots sit inside their own ?cell? and form a row near the double-lined border. The underside of the wings shows the same pale spot by the head. Tan, orange, and white mix to form a less structured pattern compared to the topside.

The caterpillar for this species is commonly seen when it is bright red or orange and has long black spikes sticking out from all over the body. Blue dots may sit at the base of the black spikes. Two black spines by the head are particularly long, almost like a pair of antennae. Pale yellow or white lines formed from short dashes run the length of the caterpillar?s body. The pupal case is white with black mottling and orange-white bumps where spikes once were. This caterpillar feeds on a variety of plants including violets, passion vine, flax, pansies, moonweed, and sedum. Multiple generations are produced each year.

Look for adults taking nectar on plants like thistle on roadsides, in meadows, and in farm fields. It is often seen in open habitats. A wide range of host plants and widespread type of habitat have helped populations of Variegated Fritillaries flourish in every part of the continent.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Patterned insect icon
Pollinator insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Nymphalidae
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          Genus: Euptoieta
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            Species: claudia
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Euptoieta claudia
Other Name(s): Hortensia Butterfly
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 45mm to 80mm (1.77" to 3.14")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: orange; black; tan; ivory; white
Descriptors: eyespots; beige; flying; black dots; pollinator; checkered; spots; arches; blocks
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 45mm (1.8in) and 80mm (3.1in)
Lo: 45mm
Md: 62.5mm
Hi: 80mm
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
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Variegated 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 Variegated Fritillary Butterfly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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