Subject: Butterfly ID
Location: Bethlehem, NH
June 13, 2012 8:08 pm
I found out this is a Greater Fritillary, but what kind? I love the photos since you can see the compound eyes, antennae, and proboscis. Photos taken 6/8/12 in Bethlehem, NH.
We agree that these are gorgeous photographs, but alas, we don’t believe we are able to identify this Greater Fritillary in the genus Speyeria to the species level. We have never been confident with identifying most Greater Fritillaries to the species level. After more than twenty years, we are currently rereading ADA by Vladimir Nabokov (see this 1969 NY Times book review), a noted author and amateur lepidopterist who frequently writes about butterflies in his novels and fiction. ADA, the title character, has a fascination with Fritillaries and it is her fantasy to raise all of the known species, many of which use a single species of violet as the sole larval food, from egg through caterpillar through chrysalis to adult. She dreams of documenting the life cycle and food plant of each species and once she has raised them to the adult stage, she plans to dissect their sexual organs because that is the only way to accurately identify them to the species level, at least that was the only way prior to DNA analysis. According to BugGuide: “Adults feed mostly on nectar and are avid visitors of flowers. They often gather in numbers on Composites (family Asteraceae). Occasionally they may visit moist mineral rich ground as well.” Your individual appears to be drinking mineral rich moisture from the ground.