Great Spangled Fritillaries Flying, Feeding & Mating
There are five species of fritillaries in New England: the Great Spangled, Aphrodite, Atlantis, Silver-bordered and Meadow. The largest and most common is the Great Spangled Fritillary.
The adults are in flight now, feeding on the nectar of a variety of flowers, including Joe-Pye Weed (pictured), mints and milkweed. In general they prefer long, tubular flowers. Males patrol open areas for females. After mating, female Great Spangled Fritillaries enter a resting state called diapause, which they emerge from in late summer. At this time they lay their eggs near patches of violets (larval host plant) and die. The caterpillars hatch in the fall and overwinter as larvae, becoming active in the spring at the same time as violet plants begin to grow. Feeding takes place at night, and is limited to violet leaves. Hopefully global warming will not upset the synchronization of these two events.
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