Butterfly: Wingspan: 1¾ - 3¼ 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 and/or brown 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.
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 High Count information shows the highest numbers recorded for this species as well as when and where they occurred.
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 email@example.com.
Sightings in the following counties: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Butler, Calhoun, Chambers, Chilton, Choctaw, Clarke, 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, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Walker, Washington, Wilcox, Winston
View county names by moving the mouse over a county or view a map with county names
Open fields and disturbed sites
Various passionflowers (Passiflora spp.) and violets (Viola spp.) are used throughout its range.
Purple Passion Flower/Maypops and Common Blue Violet have been documented in Alabama.
For more information about these plants, please visit the Alabama Plant Atlas using the links above.
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.
Click on individual photos to view a larger version that includes photo credits, county, and date.
Photos with comments are indicated by a small, tan dot on the bottom right.