Meadow Fritillary (Boloria bellona) (Fabricius, 1775)

Diagnosis: The upperside of the wings is light orange, with black spots and suffused black scaling towards the base. On most specimens, there are no dark margins. The hindwing underside is brownish purple with no silver spots. There is a keel-shaped white marking on the front margin of the hindwing underside. It is best recognized by the characteristic squared-off tip to the forewings. Wingspan: 35 to 44 mm.

Subspecies: There are three subspecies, all found in Canada. The lighter nominate subspecies bellona flies in eastern North America, including southern Canada. Subspecies toddi is found in northern Quebec and Ontario and across the southern part of the four western provinces. Specimens from the northern part of the western range, with a redder ground colour, are subspecies jenistai.

Range: This is the most widespread of the lesser fritillaries in North America, reaching south to North Carolina. In the Atlantic Provinces it has only been found in New Brunswick. It is found in a wide band from the coast of Labrador west through Quebec north to Kuujjuarapik (Great Whale River), and most of Ontario. It occurs in the four western provinces, southern Northwest Territories, and southern Yukon, but not in western British Columbia.


Specimen collection data


Similar Species: It differs from the other lesser fritillaries in having a squared-off tip to the forewings.

Early Stages: The shiny green larvae have yellowish-brown spines and feed on violets.

Abundance: This is probably the commonest lesser fritillary in most of its southern Canadian range, becoming less common farther west and north.

Flight Season: The Meadow Fritillary is double brooded in most of its Canadian range. The first brood appears in May and the second usually in August. There is a third brood in some southern locales, such as Ottawa (Layberry et al., 1982). In the north it is singlebrooded.

Habits: This is a butterfly that can adapt to a wide variety of habitats, from meadows and roadsides to forest clearings and bogs. It can be abundant in some regions and regularly visits flowers, yellow ones being preferred. It has a slow zigzagging flight.

© 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.