Fritillaries and butterflies

Kim’s notes:
  1. From Viola sagittata notes.
  2. From Viola adunca notes
  3. From Viola pedatifida notes (restoring of butterfly species)

 

In relation to Viola adunca

Reference: www.npwrc.usgs.gov USGS Butterflies of America

Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite [Fabricius])

Wing span: 2 1/2 – 3 1/4 inches (6.3 – 8.3 cm).

Identification: Geographically variable. Upperside reddish orange-brown; male forewing with black spot below cell and with no black scales on veins. Underside of hindwing has pale submarginal band narrow or missing.

Life history: Males patrol for females during warm hours. Females walk about on the ground to lay single eggs near violets. First-stage caterpillars do not feed, but overwinter until spring, when they eat young leaves of violets.

Flight: One brood from mid-June to mid-September.

Caterpillar hosts: Various violet species including northern downy violet (Viola fimbriatula) and lance-leaved violet (V. lanceolata).

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of milkweed and viper’s bugloss, among others.

Habitat: Moist prairies, high mountain meadows, openings in barrens, brush-land, dry fields, open oak woods, bogs.

Range: Canada south of the taiga from Nova Scotia west through the northern Midwest and Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains, then south in the mountains to east-central Arizona and northern New Mexico; south in the Appalachians to northern Georgia.

John Watson says that he has observed and photographed Fritillaries on violas several times. They are an agent of fertilization, and the viola is host to the larval stage of the butterfly. They lay their eggs on the stems, leaves or on leaf litter nearby the plant.   Also small blue butterflies, as photographed in Argentina on Viola cotyledon.

At Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reserve, NE of Harrisburg, efforts being made to protect Viola sagittata because it is host to the Regal fritillary butterfly (Speyeria idalia). (according to Tim Draude).

The spectacular Regal fritillary butterfly was once common in the natural grasslands, pastures, and wet meadows of the northeastern United States. Today, the only place in the northeast to witness its exuberant flight is at Ft. Indiantown Gap, home to the Pennsylvania National Guard. Nestled between Blue Mountain and Second Mountain, the long, narrow valley that supports the Regal fritillary has been kept open and grassy-just what the Regal fritillary needs-by intentional burning, mowing, and training activities.

Location: Lebanon / Dauphin Counties

The Pennsylvania National Guard contracted with The Nature Conservancy to assist with the care of this last holdout for the butterfly in the eastern United States. In January 1998, we placed a project manager on the base to assist the Guard in its efforts to protect this beautiful orange, black, and white creature.

The Nature Conservancy conducts surveys and research to better understand both the Regal fritillary and its habitat. Management techniques include removal of trees, shrubs, and invasive plants that convert crucial grassland habitat into forest, as well as habitat restoration. In 2001, The Nature Conservancy worked with Ernst Conservation Seeds and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to plant 25 acres of warm-season grasses in Regal fritillary habitat.

Restoring the Regal Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria idalia) and its host plant (Viola pedatifida) at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Dr. Diane Debinski; Professor of Animal Ecology; Iowa State University.

Dr. Diane Debinski and her students are continuing to work toward reintroduction of the prairie endemic butterfly, Speyeria idalia, the Regal Fritillary butterfly to the Refuge. Prairie restoration efforts have the potential to provide new habitat for this rare species. Experimental plots have been established to test hypotheses regarding the use of various management techniques (fire, grazing, and control) to restore Speyeria idalia’s host plants (Viola pedatifida). The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has approved a grant of $31,000 for NS NWR in order to begin this project. Preliminary results indicate that the violets are responding more favorably to burning than to the control treatment. Data is not yet available for effects of grazing on Viola pedatifida. Once these plantings are established, Speyeria idalia will be reintroduced to the experimental plots. Burning treatments will then be curtailed.

Barry Williams
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Dept. of Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution
University of Illinois
515 Morrill Hall – 505 S. Goodwin Ave
Urbana, IL 61801 USA
217-333-8002 – bwillims@students.uiuc.edu

www.life.uiuc.edu/paige/williams/idalia.html

The range of S. idalia extends across the northeastern quarter of the United States, from North Dakota south to eastern Colorado and east to Virginia and Maine. It is found in open rangeland or prairies which contain its larval food source Viola pedatifida, V. pedata, V. sagittata, V. papilionacea or V. lanceolata. S. idalia adults begin to emerge in mid June and are active until late July. An estivation period takes place in females from early until mid August when they oviposit on the ground litter, presumably near the host plant. Within a few days eclosion occurs, the first instar larvae crawl under the litter and diapause until the violets emerge again in the spring.

Because of habitat destruction associated with agricultural development of the U.S., populations of S. idalia are disappearing at an alarming rate. Loss of prairie habitat in eastern Iowa, eastern Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, where the native tall grass prairie has been almost entirely transformed to row crop agriculture, has caused the loss of all but a few remnant populations on state and privately owned nature preserves. For example, there are only a few known remaining colonies in Illinois and four or five in Wisconsin where there were originally tens to hundreds. In the western quarter of its range, extending across the great plains from North Dakota to Colorado and Kansas, there are currently several populations which are relatively unfragmented. In contrast, there are only two known populations remaining east of Illinois. The overall effect of habitat destruction on S. idalia has been a drastic reduction in the number of populations across the eastern two-thirds of its range.

Because S. idalia is a strong flyer the potential exists for gene flow among populations, possibly including the two extremely isolated populations in the eastern portion of its range. Given its current distribution, if gene flow is limited, we might expect to see little or no differentiation among great plains populations, increased differentiation among the fragmented Midwestern populations, and extreme isolation effects in the 2 eastern populations. These patterns may overlay a more historical/evolutionary history of east-west differences at a larger geographic scale. Different molecular markers should be able to identify different levels of isolation depending on their mutation rates (ie. nuclear gene sequences = slow, mtDNA sequences = moderate – rapid, microsatellites = extremely rapid). There are also a priori reasons to suspect that ecological differentiation in S. idalia may already exist. Early descriptions of eastern populations of S. idalia suggest it is associated with mesic habitats and using Viola sagittata as host plants. However, in the western portion of its range, S. idalia is typically associated with xeric hill or sand prairies and host plants like Viola pedata and V. pedatifida. In order to determine if there is differentiation among populations I am currently quantifying both morphological and genetic variation among populations.

Dreamy Duskywing (Erynnis icelus)

In NC, this species is common and is found in the mountains and western piedmont. Recent local populations have also been discovered across the northern piedmont. Dreamy Duskywings are single-brooded, flying from April to June. They are smaller than the similar Sleepy Duskywing, and they have longer palps, almost giving them a snout-like appearance.

Flight: One brood from April to early July; perhaps a rare second brood in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

Wing span: 1 1/8 – 1 1/2 inches (2.9 – 3.8 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Willows (Salix), poplars, aspens (Populus), and occasionally birch (Betula).

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of blueberry, wild strawberry, blackberry, Labrador tea, dogbane, New Jersey tea, winter cress, purple vetch, and lupine. Viola pedata and V. sagittata.

Habitat: Woodland openings or edges.

Range: Boreal North America from the Northwest Territories east across southern Canada to Nova Scotia; south in the western mountains to southern Arizona and southern New Mexico; south in the east to Arkansas, northeastern Alabama, and northern Georgia.

Sleepy Duskywing (Erynnis brizo Boisduval & Leconte, [1837])

Flight: One brood; from January-May in Florida and Texas, from March-June in the rest of the range.

Wing span: 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 inches (3.2 – 4.5 cm).

Caterpillar hosts: Scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia) and other shrubby oaks.

Adult food: Nectar from flowers of heaths (Ericaceae) including wild azalea and blueberry; also blackberry and dandelion.

Habitat: Oak or oak-pine scrub, chaparral, barrens; on well-drained sandy or shaly soils.

Flight Period: 
Adults fly from late March until late April in the piedmont and sandhills and on into early June in the mountains in a single brood.

Larval Host Plants: 
Oaks including Scrub Oak Quercus ilicifolia

Comments: 
The female is the most colorful of the region’s duskywings and is unmistakable. The male on the other hand is problematic as it is resembles the smaller male Dreamy Duskywing a great deal. The difference in size usually is best way to tell the two apart but is not always guaranteed. Dreamy Duskywing is typically a mountain species, so if you’re far away from the mountains then Sleepy Duskywing males are easy.

Shows photo of this species feeding from a Viola pedata flower.

NC, this species is common and is found in the mountains and western piedmont. Recent local populations have also been

2. IN RELATION TO VIOLA ADUNCA, V. lobata, V. cuneata, V. nuttallii, v. pupurea

Viola adunca: Zerene Fritillary, Atlantis Fritillary, Hydaspe Fritillary, Mormon Fritillary

V. lobata is host to the Zerene Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria zerene [Boisduval])

Females lay eggs on leaf litter in late summer to autumn near violet plants; unfed first-stage caterpillars over-winter on a silken mat. In the spring, caterpillars feed on leaves of violets: Viola adunca, V. lobata, V. cuneata, V. nuttallii, and V. purpurea.

Mormon Fritillary (Speyeria mormonia [Boisduval])

Females lay eggs singly on leaf litter near host plants. Caterpillars hatch but do not feed, hibernating until spring when they eat the host leaves.

Caterpillar hosts: Violets including Viola adunca, V. nuttallii, V. nephrophylla, and V. palustris.

References:

Opler, P. A. and G. O. Krizek. 1984. Butterflies east of the Great Plains. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 294 pages, 54 color plates.

Opler, P. A. and V. Malikul. 1992. A field guide to eastern butterflies. Peterson field guide #4. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston. 396 pages, 48 color plates.

Scott, J. A. 1986. The butterflies of North America. Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif. 583 pages, 64 color plates.

Tilden, J. W. 1986. A field guide to western butterflies. Houghton-Mifflin Co., Boston, Mass. 370 pages, 23 color plates.

Author: Jane M. Struttmann

Reference for above information is website: USGS Butterflies of N. America: www.npwrc.usgs.gov. Also for below:

Edwards’ Fritillary (Speyeria edwardsii [Reakirt])

Wing span: 2 1/2 – 3 3/8 inches (6.3 – 8.6 cm).

Identification: Upperside of both wings tawny orange with black border and markings. Underside green or gray-green with narrow buff submarginal band and metallic silver markings.

Life history: Males patrol in open areas for females. Females lay eggs on litter near violets. First-stage unfed caterpillars hibernate; in the spring they eat host plant leaves.

Flight: One brood from late June to early September.

Caterpillar hosts: Violets including Viola nuttallii and V. adunca.

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Short-grass prairie, foothills, meadows, fields, road edges.

Range: Short-grass prairie and western Rocky Mountains from southern Alberta east to the central Dakotas and western Nebraska, then south to northeastern New Mexico

Zerene Fritillary (Speyeria zerene [Boisduval])

Wing span: 2 1/8 – 2 3/4 inches (5.4 – 7 cm).

Identification: Upper surface of both wings tawny to red-brown with dark markings. Underside of hindwing has silvered or unsilvered marginal spots more triangular than those of Speyeria coronis.

Life history: Males patrol all day seeking females. Females may delay egg-laying until late summer. Eggs are laid on leaf litter near violets; unfed first-stage caterpillars overwinter on a silken mat. In the spring, caterpillars feed on leaves of violets.

Flight: One brood from mid-June to early September.

Caterpillar hosts: Violets including Viola adunca, V. lobata, V. cuneata, V. nuttallii, and V. purpurea.

Adult food:

Habitat: Conifer forests, sagebrush, coastal meadows and dunes.

Range: Coastal British Columbia south and east to Montana, south to central California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Conservation:

The Oregon silverspot (subspecies hippolyta) is historically known from 17 locations along the Pacific Coast from southern Washington to central Oregon, but is now found in only 4 sites in Oregon. Habitat loss and intrusion of non-native plants have been accelerated by increased recreational use and development of the coast.

Speyeria zerene hippolyta is listed as T1 by The Nature Conservancy: Critically imperiled because of extreme rarity (5 or fewer occurrences, or very few remaining individuals), or because of some factor of its biology making it especially vulnerable to extinction. (Critically endangered throughout its range).

The Myrtle’s silverspot (subspecies myrtleae) and Behren’s silverspot (subspecies behrensii) are listed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Management needs: Establish Critical Habitat areas where encroaching development and plants can be managed to preserve meadows where the caterpillar host plant (Viola adunca) grows.

Great Basin Fritillary (Speyeria egleis [Behr])

Wing span: 1 3/4 – 2 3/8 inches (4.5 – 6 cm).

Identification: Upperside bright to dull orange-brown with dark markings evenly spaced. Underside of hindwing has triangular, silver submarginal spots; other spots small with brown edging; spots may or may not be silvered.

Life history: Males patrol during the day for females, who lay eggs on leaf litter near violets. First-stage caterpillars hibernate unfed until spring, when they feed on violet leaves.

Flight: One brood from late June-August.

Caterpillar hosts: Violets including Viola adunca, V. nuttallii, V. purpurea, and V. walteri. No this is out of it’s range – map shows this butterfly only in west.

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Mountain meadows, forest openings, exposed rocky ridges.

Range: North Dakota southwest through Oregon to California, south to Colorado.

 

Hydaspe Fritillary (Speyeria hydaspe [Boisduval])

Wing span: 2 – 2 1/2 inches (5 – 6.4 cm).

Identification: Upperside orange-brown with dark bases and heavy dark markings. Underside light brown to dark maroon with violet tinge. Hindwing submarginal band slightly paler than rest of wing; spots cream-colored, bordered with black, and may or may not be silvered.

Life history: Eggs are laid near host plants. Unfed, first-stage caterpillars hibernate; in the spring they eat leaves.

Flight: One brood from June-September.

Caterpillar hosts: Violets including Viola adunca, V. glabella, V. nuttallii, V. orbiculata, and V. purpurea.

Adult food: Flower nectar.

Habitat: Moist forest openings and mountain meadows.

Range: British Columbia east to Alberta, south to southern California, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico.

 

In relation to Viola pedatifida

Restoring the Regal Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria idalia) and its host plant (Viola pedatifida) at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Dr. Diane Debinski; Professor of Animal Ecology; Iowa State University. Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, located just 25 minutes east of Des Moines, Iowa, was established in 1990. Its mission is to re-construct tallgrass prairie and restore oak savanna on 8,654 acres of the Walnut Creek watershed and to provide a major environmental education facility focusing on prairie, oak savanna, and human interaction.

Dr. Diane Debinski and her students are continuing to work toward reintroduction of the prairie endemic butterfly, Speyeria idalia, the Regal Fritillary butterfly to the Refuge. Prairie restoration efforts have the potential to provide new habitat for this rare species. Experimental plots have been established to test hypotheses regarding the use of various management techniques (fire, grazing, and control) to restore Speyeria idalia’s host plants (Viola pedatifida). The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has approved a grant of $31,000 for NS NWR in order to begin this project. Preliminary results indicate that the violets are responding more favorably to burning than to the control treatment. Data is not yet available for effects of grazing on Viola pedatifida. Once these plantings are established, Speyeria idalia will be reintroduced to the experimental plots. Burning treatments will then be curtailed.

www.gpnc.org/regal.htm The caterpillars of Regals, as is true of most fritillaries, eat only violets. In particular, Regals prefer the Birdsfoot Violet (Viola pedata) and Prairie Violet (V. pedatifida). The eggs are laid in late summer. The newly hatched caterpillars overwinter and begin eating the following spring. The adults emerge in early summer and may be seen through September. The known range of the Regal Fritillary originally stretched from Maine to Montana and south to Oklahoma and North Carolina. Because the caterpillars utilize the prairie species of violets, this species was never found outside tall grass prairie. Regals have almost disappeared from their former range east of the Mississippi River. They now occur only from southern Wisconsin west to Montana and south to northeast Oklahoma. Some relict populations occur in Pennsylvania and Maryland but they may not last much longer.

Restoring the Regal Fritillary Butterfly (Speyeria idalia) and its host plant (Viola pedatifida) at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Dr. Diane Debinski; Professor of Animal Ecology; Iowa State University.

Dr. Diane Debinski and her students are continuing to work toward reintroduction of the prairie endemic butterfly, Speyeria idalia, the Regal Fritillary butterfly to the Refuge.

 

Why has the Regal Fritillary gone into such a sharp decline?

Habitat loss is a definite possibility. The greatest decline in Regal populations was noticed over the last 40 years, so conversion of prairie to farmland is probably not to blame because most of that occurred before that period. Suburban sprawl has definitely had an impact on relict prairies during that time, however, and maybe that is a factor.
 Another possibility is disease. Captive populations being kept for reintroduction purposes have been hit by a virus that is transmitted from parents to young. If this is active in the wild populations, that would be a serious matter.
 Could chemicals in the environment be to blame? The disappearance of the Regals coincides with the onset of widespread use of herbicides and pesticides in agriculture. No such relationship has been established, but the overlap of the two trends is suggestive and should be investigated.   One thing that does not help is the haphazard egg laying behavior of Regals. Most butterfly mothers will lay their eggs directly on the host plant that the caterpillar will consume. Regals, however, just wander around laying their eggs throughout their grassland habitat rather than directly on or next to the violets that the caterpillars will need. Then, the caterpillar will hatch before winter, but not begin feeding until the following spring! This extremely risky strategy may explain why a Regal female may lay up to 2,400 eggs – which is far more than most butterfly females will lay. 

The butterflies probe each flower for nectar with their proboscis. Look for interaction between them and other insects that come to the flowers. Butterflies can be quite pugnacious sometimes, and quite tolerant of other insects at other times.

Regal Fritillaries can be seen all summer long in the right habitat. If you see them, you know that you are in a high-quality tallgrass prairie – a remnant of what used to be the most extensive habitat type in North America, but which is now much reduced in area.