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Female Butterfly. Photo by Phil Delestrez (Georgia DNR-State Parks)
photo by Phil Delestrez (Georgia DNR-State Parks)
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Speyeria diana (Cramer, 1777)

Diana Fritillary

Federal Protection: No US federal protection

State Protection: No Georgia state protection

Global Rank: G2G3

State Rank: S3

SWAP High Priority Species (SGCN): Yes

Element Occurrences (EOs) in Georgia: 15

Habitat Summary for element in Georgia: Hardwood forests


Description

This large fritillary is unmistakable throughout it's range.  The males on the upperside are orange, like most members of the genus Speyeria, but with the basal two-thirds of the wings dark brown (and not spotted like other Speyeria).  The underside of the hindwing has a single, narrow postmedian row of silver spots, unlike most of the other members of the genus that have a large number of silver spots on the hindwing underside.  The female is patterned like the male, but is larger, with the orange on the upperside replaced with iridescent blue color, and the ground color of the underside of the hindwing a dark brown instead of the orange brown of the male.

Similar Species

The Diana Fritillary cannot be confused with other species in its range.  The only other large fritillary butterflies with which it co-occurs are the Great-Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) and the Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite), but these species are mottled brown on orange on the upperside, and the hindwing underside in both species has copious silver spots.  The females of these other two species are also orange, and not blue.

Habitat

Forests and Forest edges, with abundant nectar sources.  Some of the favorite nectar sources include milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), particularly Butterfly Weed (A. tuberosa), and Joe-Pye Weeds (Eutrochium spp.).

Diet

The caterpillars feed on (forest dwelling) violets (Viola sp.).

Life History

This butterfly has an extended single generation each year.  The adult males often emerge well ahead of the females.  In Georgia, the males may be seen by mid to late June, but females don't emerge until sometime in July, and often remain secretive in the woods until August.  I have seen adult females into mid-October, but by this time they have laid all their eggs.

Survey Recommendations

Range

This is largely an Appalachian and Ozark butterfly, with records as far north as southern Ontario, and as far west as eastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas.  In Georgia, it is basically restricted to the northern tier of states, with occasional strays farther south.

Threats

No imminent threats, though logging/clearing of forest habitats where it occurs could certainly wipe out individual populations.

Georgia Conservation Status

Conservation Management Recommendations

References

Authors of Account

James K. Adams

Date Compiled or Updated

Male Diana Fritillary. Photo by Vitaly Charny. Image may be subject to copyright.
Male butterfly. Photo by Jess Riddle. Image may be subject to copyright.