Regal Fritillary

The Butterflies of the World Foundation

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Regal Fritillary

Speyeria idalia, Drury, 1773

Subfamily Heliconiinae

Tribe Argynnini



The family Nymphalidae is the largest butterfly family and includes about 6,000 species which are further divided up into 12 subfamilies.  The common name for the family is the Brushfoots or Brushfooted Butterflies.  This strange name is because the first pair of legs are significantly reduced, sometimes to mere stubs, and look like little brushes.  Some of the most common and well known species are in this group such as the Monarch, Red Admiral, Blue Morpho and Painted Lady.  Some of the longest lived butterflies are in this family with some species living over 10 months as adults.  The Brushfoots are distributed worldwide, with the highest diversity found in the tropics.  With this variety, there is also quite a difference in behavior, adult food choices and habitat preference from species to species.

Speyeria idalia, Prairie State Park, Barton County, Missouri, 27 June 2010

                                                                                               Ref #:  I-442-2.2

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Speyeria idalia, near Welda Preserve, Anderson County, Kansas, 15 June 2009

                                                                                              Ref #:  I-423-13.1

General Information:


Speyeria idalia belongs to the subfamily Heliconiinae.  This vanishing species is found in tall-grass prairie remnants in Montana and North Dakota south to Colorado, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.  It is rare or absent from former range east of the Appalachians.  Its preferred habitat includes tall-grass prairie and other open sites including damp meadows, marshes, wet fields and mountain pastures.



The larval food source includes many species of violets, Viola sp.  Males patrol for females with a low, steady flight.  Females walk through vegetation to lay single eggs on various plants, even if the host violets are not present.  Most eggs are laid in August.  The caterpillars hatch and overwinter unfed and in the spring they eat the leaves of host violets.