This species ranges from the Pacific Northwest south to southern California and Nevada, east to central Montana, western South Dakota and Nebraska, extending south to Utah and Colorado. In Idaho, it occurs in patches over most of the state except the extreme north.
It can be found in a variety of habitats, including chaparral, sagebrush steppe, open woodlands, and mountain foothills.
Caterpillars feed on the leaves of several species of violets (Viola spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar, often from thistle (Cirsium spp.). They have been observed drinking nectar for up to ten minutes at a single flower head.
There is one new generation of caterpillars each year. Eggs hatch in the fall; the newly emerged caterpillars, having not yet fed, enter a physiological state called diapause to overwinter. In the spring the young caterpillars feed on the new leaves of host plants. Adults generally fly from late May through October. In California, adult females have been observed entering diapause during the summer, then emerging in late August to September to lay eggs. Fritillaries are long-lived for a butterfly, surviving several weeks to months.
Males patrol open areas in search of receptive females. pheromones, chemicals used to locate and attract the opposite sex, are produced by both male and female Fritillaries. These chemicals are believed to play an important role in assisting these butterflies to find and recognize other members of their own species. Eggs are laid singly near host plants. In cases where the violet plant has already withered and blown away, females are still able to lay their eggs near to where the host plant will reappear the next spring. This is possible, it is believed, because females are able to locate violet roots by smell!
|Idaho Status:||Unprotected nongame species.|
G5; populations are widespread, abundant, and secure. extinction.
Opler, P. A., H. Pavulaan, and R. E. Stanford. 1995. Butterflies of North America. Jamestown, North Dakota, USA: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/lepid/bflyusa/bflyusa.htm (Version 05Nov98).
Opler, P. A. and A. B.Wright. 1999. A Field Guide to the Western Butterflies. Second Edition. Peterson Field Guide Series. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, New York, USA, 540 pp.
Pyle, R. M. 1981. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, USA, 924 pp.
Scott, J. A. 1986. The Butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, USA, 583 pp.
Stanford, R. E. and P. A. Opler. 1993. Atlas of Western U.S.A. Butterflies (Including Adjacent Parts of Canada and Mexico). Published by authors, Denver, Colorado, USA, 275 pp.