Butterflies of the Adirondack Mountains:
Great Spangled Fritillary
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The Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) is a butterfly that may be seen in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York in mid to late summer. Fritillaries belong to the family of brush-footed butterflies. The name "fritillary" is derived from the Latin word for "dice box," which is suggested by the checkered pattern of orange and black on the upper surface of the wings.  The name "spangled" refers to the silvery "spangles" on the undersurface.  The name "Cybele" is a reference to Cybele, the Anatolian earth goddess. 
From above, the male is tan to orange with black scales on its forewing veins. The female Great Spangled is somewhat larger and darker than the male,  usually a yellow brown, darker at the base of the wings.  From below, the hind wing has a wide pale submarginal band with large silver spots. In contrast to some other fritillaries, this species lacks a black spot near the base of the fore wing cell. 
Male Great Spangled Fritillaries appear earlier than females to initiate the flight season.  Males patrol throughout the day, seeking females.  Female Great Spangled butterflies lay their eggs in late summer on or near their violet hosts.  The newly-hatched caterpillars overwinter until spring and then crawl to nearby host plants.  Host plants include various violet species.   Adults consume the nectar from many species of flowers including milkweed, dogbane, vetch, red clover, and purple coneflower. 
The habitat of the Great Spangled Fritillary includes forests, woodlands, swamps, marshes, bogs, moist meadows and fields.   This butterfly reportedly prefers moist areas in rich soil.  The range of the Great Spangled butterfly includes southern Canada and the northern US (including New York State), south to northern Georgia and west to California and Oregon.   It is said to be one of the most conspicuous and common butterflies over meadows and roadsides in parts of the east. 
The Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly was seen in early July 2012 in the Adirondack Mountains south west of Paul Smiths.  We generally see them in the Paul Smiths VIC Butterfly House mid to late summer. 
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