Saturday, July 30, 2011

Timeout To Enjoy The Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Well it seems like suddenly I've become a butterfly enthusiast and photographer. After all, last week I posted about my experiences with the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.

Truth is, blogging has made me keep my camera nearby & thus - much to my amazement - I seem to notice and enjoy things that I've overlooked in the past. I don't wake up and say "hey, I'm gonna go out & photograph butterflies today." Rather, they somehow just seem to find me.

This week, another beautiful butterfly caught my eye. After researching I thought I'd stumbled upon the Great Spangled Fritillary (similar), but it turns out to actually be a Variegated Fritillary.
While also residing in many parts of South America, this beautiful butterfly is primarily seen in the eastern 3/4 of the continental United States (with the exception of the extreme north-central & northeast).

Caterpillar/Range Map
The mid-sized & nomadic Variegated Fritillary Butterfly is a much lighter brown-orange than other Fritillaries, such as the Great Spangled Fritillary. They are low & swift flyers.

Difficult to approach and easily scared, I considered it a privilege to capture this butterfly on camera (though it did take a lot more patience than my experience with the more relaxed Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly last week).

Living from around April through October (slightly shorter life farther north), these Fritillaries usually have between 2-3 broods per year.

These butterflies love open fields and meadows, sunny prairies & pastures, and can be seen along road edges and near landfills. They'll also frequent their favorite nectar food sources, including milkweed, dogbane, peppermint, red clover, thistles, alfalfa, butterflyweed, fleabane, common boneset, coneflowers, asters and more.
Finally, Variegated Fritillaries are not a threatened species globally, but may be considered a minor pest to ornamental pansies and violets.


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