Mystery butterfly in my garden!
I wonder if you could help identify this beautiful butterfly that appeared in my garden for the first time today — I am attaching the pictures. Thanks for any help you can provide.
This is a Greater Fritillary in the genus Speyeria. We are not qualified to identify the exact species. Though they range from coast to coast, here is a quote from Jeffrey Glassberg’s book Butterflies Through Binoculars The West: “These are some of the largest and most beautiful butterflies in the West; unfortunately they are the most difficult group to identify to species. Most of the species are exceptionally variable. Travel a hundred miles and you’ll think your’re looking at a completely different animal. A species may be confused with two other species at one location and with a different set of species at a different location! Making matters even worse is that, in general, most of the identification cues, such as they are, only show you their topsides. … [The] reality is that in many cases you’re going to have to accept that your best identification is that it’s a greater fritillary. In many cases, people who believe they can identify individual butterflies are wrong.”