Callippe Fritillary (Speyeria callippe) (Boisduval, 1852)

Diagnosis: Very similar to the other greater fritillaries. The orange to yellow-brown ground colour is broken by heavy black markings that give it a distinctive checkered appearance. The silver spots of the hindwings below show through as pale spots on the upperside. The disc (basal two-thirds) of the hindwing underside is washed with pale green. It is best distinguished by the marginal row of silver spots that are triangular in shape and crowned by triangles of green. Wingspan: 56 to 63 mm.

Subspecies: Two of the sixteen named subspecies of this butterfly have been found in Canada, the darker subspecies semivirida in British Columbia and the paler subspecies calgariana in the Prairies. The two subspecies intergrade in southwestern Alberta.

Range: This is one of the more widespread western fritillaries, reaching from the Mexican border well into Canada. It is found through southern and central British Columbia as far north as Williams Lake. From there it ranges across the southern Prairie Provinces, with the most northerly record being Deschambault Lake, Saskatchewan.

Specimen collection data

Similar Species: The Callippe Fritillary is similar to the other fritillaries with a greenish underside disc. It is smaller than Edwards' Fritillary (S. edwardsii) and lacks its concave forewing outer margin; the Mormon Fritillary (S. mormonia) is much smaller with smaller, silver spots on the hindwing below. [compare images]

Early Stages: The larvae are grey with black and grey patches and covered with orange and black spines.

Abundance: It is more common in the western part of its range than farther east; it is uncommon in Manitoba.

Flight Season: Found on the wing from mid-June into August in its Canadian range. Females emerge before males.

Habits: This butterfly is generally found in drier habitats than the other fritillaries and is most common on grassy hillsides in the Prairies. It is a wary butterfly and can most easily be approached early in the morning when it is resting on flowers such as gaillardia and thistles.

Remarks: The green-coloured underside of this attractive butterfly allows it to disappear quickly after landing in its prairie grasslands habitat.

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.