Alabama Butterfly Atlas

Butterfly: Wingspan: 1 3/4 - 3 1/8 inches (4.5 - 8 cm). The upperside is tawny orange with thick dark veins and markings; there are black spots near the margin. The hindwing margin is angled and slightly scalloped. The underside of the hindwing has a mottled pattern and no silver spots.

ID Tip: Closed wings are tawny-orange with black spots In forewing and hindwing. No silver spots. Pale-yellow central band.

Egg: Creamy colored and ribbed.  Laid singly on host plant.

Caterpillar: Reddish orange with black-spotted white stripes and black spines.  

Chrysalis: Shiny, silvery white covering that is interspersed with black dots.  Several rows of golden tubercles also adorn the body. The overwintering stage.

Variegated Fritillaries are common residents of open, sunny areas that support host and nectar plants, but they are rarely seen in large numbers.  They are easily alarmed and are somewhat difficult to approach.  Their upper wing surfaces are strikingly orange, but when perched with closed wings, they resemble dried leaves and seem to disappear.

Variegated Fritillaries bridge the gap between the Greater Fritillaries (Speyarias) and the Longwings (Heliconias). Their rusty orange, rounded wings cause them to resemble the Greater Fritillaries, but they are considerable smaller. And like the Greater Fritillaries, their caterpillars eat violets--but they also eat Passionflowers, the sole host of the Longwings. 

In Alabama, Variegated Fritillaries are widespread and have several overlapping broods.  They are expected to occur in every county in the state.

Distribution and Abundance

A dot on the county map indicates that there is at least one documented record of the species within that county. In some cases, a species may be common throughout the county, in others it may be found in only a specific habitat.

The sightings bar graphs depict the timing of flight(s) within each of three geographic regions. Place your cursor on a bar within the graph to see the number of individuals recorded during that period.

The abundance calendar displays the total number of individuals recorded within each week of the month. Both the graphs and the calendar are on based data collection that began in 2000.

The records analyzed here are only a beginning. As more data is collected, these maps and graphs will paint a more accurate picture of distribution and abundance in Alabama. Submit your sightings to albutterflyatlas@gmail.com.

Sightings in the following counties: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Butler, Calhoun, Chambers , Chilton, Choctaw, Cleburne, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Cullman, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jefferson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Washington, Wilcox, Winston

  • Sightings in the past 5 years
  • Sightings in the past 5 - 10 years
  • Sightings more than 10 years ago
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 2 1 13 5 21 12 14 14 11 10 14 11 4 8 2 9 4 9 8 4 27 7 12 17 9 34 43 12 20 3 17 11 2 1 2

Habitat

Open fields and disturbed sites

Host and Nectar Plants

Various passionflowers (Passiflora spp.) and violets (Viola spp.) are used throughout its range.

These host plants have been verified in Alabama: Purple Passion Flower/Maypops (Passiflora incarnata), Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia).

For more information about the documented host plants and/or nectar plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the following links:

Landscaping Ideas

Including Maypop vines in the landscape will support Variegated and Gulf Fritillary caterpillars.  These fast-growing vines need supporting structures like an arbor or fence.  They tend to sprout near the original planting location and these may be potted up and shared with friends.  

Violets provide larval food for several fritillaries, as well as Variegated Fritillaries, so their use as a groundcover can be beneficial.