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.
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