Freija Fritillary (Boloria freija) (Thunberg, 1791)
Diagnosis: A small to medium-sized lesser fritillary (wingspan: 28 to 38 mm), with a tawny upperside marked by distinct black spots and bars and with a dark base in northern populations. The hindwing underside is reddish brown with distinct jagged-looking white markings. There is a scalloped black line margined with white running across the middle of the hindwings.
Subspecies: The nominate subspecies was named from Scandinavia, but is also found in Canada from Yukon across the Boreal Zone to Newfoundland. The darker subspecies tarquinius is found in the Canadian arctic tundra.
Range: This is a very wide-ranging species across the Northern Hemisphere. In Canada, it is found in most parts of the country except coastal British Columbia, southern Ontario and Quebec (there is a historical record from the Mer Bleue bog near Ottawa), the southern three Maritime Provinces, and the northern Arctic Islands.
Similar Species: Although similar to the other lesser fritillaries, the Freija Fritillary is best distinguished by the elongate white triangular patch and the black and white scalloped band in the middle of the hindwing below. Adults are in flight well before most of the other fritillaries are on thewing.
Early Stages: The larvae are dark brown with light-coloured spots. They have been recorded feeding on blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) and Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), and on a variety of other plants in Europe and Japan.
Abundance: This is a localized but fairly common species in Canada.
Flight Season: The Freija Fritillary is one of the earliest of the lesser fritillaries to be seen in Canada.In the southern part of its range in the west it is flying in mid-May. However, it flies in June and July in the Arctic.
Habits: Although mainly considered a willow-bog species, this butterfly wanders into forest clearings and alpine valleys in search of flowers and is locally common on the tundra.
© 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.
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