Attention … Great Spangled Fritillaries mating
Here are a few photos of mating Great Spangled Fritillaries (Speyeria cybele) for your collection. They were taken on a perfect sunny afternoon last weekend in southwest Manitoba, along a forest trail in mature aspen parkland. The key identifying features of this species are the reddish background color on the underside of the wing, except for the relatively wide and clear yellow/cream band between the last two rows of silver spots on the underside, and the lack of any black spots or dashes on the base (inside of the long squiggly black line) on the upper side of the forewing. Apart from these features most Greater Fritillaries (genus Speyeria) are very similar and difficult to tell apart. I believe the curious intruder was another female (males are generally paler than the females). Keep up the great work! Regards.
Hi again Karl,
Thank you for your gorgeous photos and the concise species identification information for the Great Spangled Fritillary.
Update: (07/30/2008) Speyeria cybele pictures
I noticed the Speyeria Cybele pictures on your front page, I think the identity of the male and female is mixed up. Speyeria cybele females are generally paler than males, especially westward and the color of the disc is a little richer brown. More generally in the genus Speyeria males of most species including cybele have darker scaling along the forewing veins, so I think in the top picture the female is on top while the male is on bottom and in the second picture both of the butterflies showing their topsides are males.
You were quite correct and I did have the sexes reversed. I should have checked again. To add to your comments, many references do say that the female of the species is darker topside, but this is an overall visual effect caused by the heavier black (or dark brown) markings on females relative to males. The orange background color is always more vivid in the male. This difference is only slight in Manitoba, but increases as you go west, as you suggest (in Alberta the females can be almost black and white). Good call, and thanks again.
Ed. Note: (08/01/2008)
Choosing our Bug of the Month each month is sometimes a difficult decision, but we try to use a very recently submitted photo. The photos that Karl sent of the mating Great Spangled Fritillaries are positively gorgeous, and they brought back fond memories of the Dog Days of Summer in Ohio, and the numerous Fritillaries that would visit roadside wild flowers like milkweed and Joe Pye weed among others. These beautiful and noble butterflies were also among the favorites of Vladimir Nabokov, one of our favorite authors.