Hydaspe Fritillary (Speyeria hydaspe) (Boisduval, 1869)

Diagnosis: The upperside of both wings is a rich orange brown, much darker at the base, with heavy black markings. The hindwing underside disc is a rich maroon colour, sometimes with a lavender tint, and often extends well into, or completely fills, the submarginal band between the spots. The spots on the hindwing below are variable; they may be silver but are more commonly yellowish. Wingspan: 44 to 60 mm.

Subspecies: The only valid subspecies found in Canada, from Vancouver Island to the Cypress Hills of southwestern Saskatchewan is subspecies rhodope; see Remarks below.

Range: In Canada, this species flies from the Rocky Mountains of Alberta westward to Vancouver Island and north as far as Mt. Hoadley in British Columbia. There is an isolated population in the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan.

Similar Species: The dark maroon underside distinguishes this species from other greater fritillaries.

Early Stages: The larvae are black with dark spines on the back and orange-brown spines on the sides.

Abundance: This fritillary can be abundant along the Pacific coast (Howe, 1975), but tends to be only locally common farther east.

Flight Season: June to August is their normal flight period, being most numerous in July.

Habits: This is a moist woodland species in the western part of its Canadian range, but it also occurs in drier areas in central British Columbia. It is usually found in forest clearings with other fritillaries on flowers.

Remarks: The well-known subspecies sakuntala (Skinner, 1911) was recently shown to be invalid (Kondla, 2001). The slightly darker coastal populations might be a different subspecies but more study is needed.

© 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.