Thursday, September 24, 2009

Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

A worn and faded female Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) symbolizes the end of butterfly season is near. She is nectaring on a variety of Blazing Star. (There are many varieties of this colorful fall wildflower. I haven't gotten them all sorted out yet.) The two beetles beneath her are Goldenrod Soldier Beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus), a species of leatherwing beetle that is probably the most commonly seen soldier beetle in eastern/central North America during late summer and fall.

Species information on the Great Spangles Fritillary from Nearctica:

Wing span: 2 1/2 - 4 inches (6.3 - 10.1 cm).

Identification: Large. Upperside of male tan to orange with black scales on forewing veins; female tawny, darker than male. Underside of hindwing with wide pale submarginal band and large silver spots.

Life history: Males patrol open areas for females. Eggs are laid in late summer on or near host violets. Newly-hatched caterpillars do not feed, but overwinter until spring, when they eat young violet leaves.

Flight: One brood from mid-June to mid-September.

Caterpillar hosts: Various violet species (Viola).

Adult food: Nectar from many species of flowers including milkweeds, thistles, ironweed, dogbane, mountain laurel, verbena, vetch, bergamot, red clover, joe-pye weed, and purple coneflower.

Habitat: Open, moist places including fields, valleys, pastures, right-of-ways, meadows, open woodland, prairies.

Range: Alberta east to Nova Scotia, south to central California, New Mexico, central Arkansas, and northern Georgia.



Dr. Omed said...

Are Goldenrod Soldier Beetles any kin to what are locally called "Bonking Beetles?"

Jeannette StG said...

Beautiful, even if this butterfly is considered worn and faded:)

Anonymous said...

Very nice shot indeed.

Marvin said...

Thank y'all for the comments.

Dr. Omed: Maybe. Probably. I dunno.

According to a couple of online sources, the real bonking beetle is a Hogweed Bonking Beetle, a soldier beetle native to Eurasia (aka Common Red Soldier Beetle - Rhagonycha fulva). This beetle has been introduced into North America, but is found in points north of you and I -- like Canada.

There are two species of soldier beetle that are quite common in our part of the world and are often seen engaging in copulatory activity. These two are the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle shown and linked above and the Margined Leatherwing Beetle (Chauliognathus marginatus). These two beetles look very similar, but the Goldenrod Soldier Beetle has a roundish dot on its pronotum (short body segment between head and thorax) while the Margined Leatherwing has more of a dash. However, the easiest way to tell them apart is by looking at the calendar. Margined Leatherwings are abundant in the spring and Goldenrod Soldier Beetles are found in the fall.

I would guess that the average citizen calls them both bonking beetles.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It's that time of year when some flowers and butterflies look a little summer worn. Nice photo though.

Shelly Cox said...

Very nice indeed Marvin, faded or not she is lovely!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Oh what a beautiful butterfly Marvin!! Stunning shot of it.

Anonymous said...

I like this. I'm glad you pointed out the beetles, otherwise would have missed them.

Unknown said...

Almost like a wilting flower ... summer breathes her last sigh.

Pat - Arkansas said...

A lovely photo, Marvin. Butterflies are becoming sporadic visitors to my still blooming flowers. I saw a Soldier Beetle on my Chocolate Joe Pye Weed plant last week, but didn't know what it was... now I do.:)

Lana Gramlich said...

Wow...All so beautiful; the butterfly, beetles, flowers, everything. Kudos! Great capture.

Helen said...

A beautiful insect. Love those feathered antennae. Helen