Butterfly of the Week – Meadow Fritillary

The Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona) is a butterfly in the brushfoot family.  It can be found in southern Canada, the north central U.S. as well as the northeast and mid-Atlantic states.  At this time it is not routinely found in the southern U.S. or Mexico; however, some have reported that it is expanding its range into the South.

The Meadow Fritillary has a wing span of 1.375 to 2 inches.  The upper tips of the forewings appear to be squared off when the wings are open.  The forewings and hindwings are reddish-orange or orange-yellow with black dots and circles.  The males can be distinguished from females by having a bright, broad yellow border on the underside of both wings. The butterflies typically rest with their wings spread out and flat.

Meadow Fritillary butterfly
Meadow Fritillary Butterfly

Meadow Fritillary butterflies are typically found in wet, open places such as marshes, along streams and in pastures and fields.

Meadow Fritillary caterpillar
Meadow Fritillary Caterpillar

There are usually two to three generations per year between late April and October.  Females lay eggs on twigs and plants other than violets.  The caterpillars are black to brownish black with uneven ridges and fine, tiny tufts of hair on their backs.  They feed on violets such as the northern white violet and the woolly blue violet.  Adult Meadow Fritillaries prefer black-eyed Susans, dandelions and daisies for their nectar sources. 


Article by Lynn Keller, VMD