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Great Spangled Fritillary

Speyeria cybele cybele (Fabricius, 1775)

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Adult photo (Click to enlarge)
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Adult ventral photo (Click to enlarge)
Distribution Map
Ohio county distribution
Records by Month
Flight period (Temporal distribution)

STATUS: Resident; common.

DISTRIBUTION/RANGE: Statewide (see map). This species has been recorded from all 88 Ohio counties.

HABITAT: This butterfly is found in open woodlands and in associated open areas such as pastures, prairies, clover fields, alfalfa fields, roadsides, and gardens. This species is often encountered visiting flowers far from woodlands.

HOSTPLANT(S): In Ohio, larvae of this species have been found and reared on violets (Clement W. Baker, unpublished notes; David K. Parshall, pers comm, 1987). This butterfly uses various species of violets as hostplants (Opler and Krizek, 1984).

ADULT ENERGY RESOURCES: Common milkweed, swamp milkweed, butterfly-weed, Indian hemp, red clover, alfalfa, teasel, buttonbush, bull thistle, Canada thistle, field thistle, ironweed, black-eyed Susan, spotted Joe-Pye weed, oxeye daisy, wild bergamot, and St. john's-wort. Adults have also been observed visiting carrion, damp soil, and damp sand.

FLIGHT PERIOD: One generation, peaking in late June-early July (see graph). Extreme dates range from 5 April (unusually early) to 30 October.

SIMILAR SPECIES: This species can be confused with both the Aphrodite Fritillary (S. aphrodite) and the Atlantis Fritillary (S. atlantis). Speyeria cybele lacks the black spot below the discal cell that is usually present on both S. aphrodite and S. atlantis. Ventrally, the submarginal hindwing buff band is much wider in S. cybele than in S. aphrodite or S. atlantis; this band is often entirely absent in S. aphrodite. The Great Spangled Fritillary is usually larger than the other two species as well.

GENERAL COMMENTS: This is the most common fritillary in Ohio. Although this species may have declined in overall abundance in recent years (Price, 1970), it is still a common sight throughout the State.

The flight of this species is rapid and is usually within two meters of the ground. Males patrol, presumably to locate mates, and seem to follow set "routes" around fields. Both sexes are avid flower visitors and are easily observed while they perch on favored flowers.

Speyeria cybele often occurs in the same habitats as does S. aphrodite, a species with which it is easily confused. Throughout its Ohio range, S. cybele is the more abundant of the two species.

This species is extremely variable. Both sexes, but especially females, vary greatly in color, and can range from pale buff individuals which sometimes resemble the northern subspecies, S. cybele krautwurmi (Holland, 1931), to individuals that are aberrantly melanic (S. cybele form 'baal' [Strecker, 1878], type locality Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio). Adults are also variable in size.

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