Speyeria hydaspe
Hydaspe Fritillary

Family Description:
Alternate Common Name:
Lavender Fritillary.
Caterpillar: The caterpillar is black with black and covered with spines, black ones along the back and orangish brown ones, tipped with black, on the sides.
Adult: The Fritillaries as a group are very similar in appearance, and the differences between individual species are often minor and difficult to see. Positive identification to the species level is difficult and requires detailed examination. This is a medium-sized Fritillary, with a wingspan of 1 to 2 inches. Its appearance somewhat varies between regions. Generally, the upperside is orangish brown, with darker brown at the bases of the wings. The forewing is marked extensively with black: along the leading edge with four or five short, wavy, nearly parallel lines; a thick, vertical, wavy and winding band across the center; a row of spots, followed by a row of inverted "v"-shaped marks along the outside edge; and two thin lines on the border. The hindwing is similarly marked. Underneath, the forewing is golden yellow to light brown, possibly tinged with orange at the base and with lavender at the tip. It is marked as above but the spots along the upper half of the edge are beige. The underside of the hindwing is yellowish to golden brown to brown, possibly tinged with reddish brown or maroon at the base, and marked with many large beige (possibly silver) spots, some capped with brown; the spots on the outer half of the wing are arranged in two curved rows, with a band of yellow in between.

This species ranges from central British Columbia and southwestern Alberta south to California and east to western Montana and Colorado excluding most of Nevada and Utah. In Idaho, it can be found in much of the southern half of the state.

It typically occurs in moist woodlands, often with aspens, and mountain meadows.


Caterpillar: Caterpillars feed on the leaves of several species of violets (Viola spp.).
Adult: Butterflies drink flower nectar, often from yellow flowers.

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 June to September. Fritillaries are long-lived for a butterfly, surviving several weeks to months.

It has not been reported whether males actively patrol or perch to wait for receptive females; however, most males of other Fritillary species patrol. 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 and randomly 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.
Global Rank:

G5; populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Ferris, C.D. and F.M. Brown (eds.) 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 442 pp.

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.