Easily scared!

Variegated Fritillary butterfly

Variegated Fritillary

We stopped along the roadside to look at some yellow flowers and noticed this Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)…not a very large or spectacularly colored species, but very pretty and intricately marked when you take a close look.

This species lays its eggs singly on host plants of several different species. The caterpillars are not selective in their food preferences. I have often seen them on Maypop (Passiflora incarnate) vines in our small field, but they are also found on many other species. I have a photograph of a caterpillar in one of our Nature Notes. Go to the Nature Notes menu and click on Nature Notes #5, October, 2011 to download that issue.

In the southern U.S., as many as four broods of Variegated Fritillaries (each brood being an egg to adult cycle) may be produced in a season. The normal range of this species is Argentina though northern South America, Central America, Mexico and into the southern United States. They are nomadic rather than having a fixed territory, and are regularly found as far north as southern Canada.

Variegated Fritillary underwing pattern

Variegated Fritillary underwing pattern

The generic name of the Variegated Fritillary is Euptoieta, derived from the Greek for “scares easily”. I can attest that is not easy to get close to one of them for a good photograph.

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