Variegated Fritillary Butterfly (Euptoieta claudia)

Type and Coloration

The Variegated Fritillary is brownish orange above, with a complex checkered pattern of black markings and dark dots. It has a black-rimmed rimmed, pale orange spot near the leading edge of the forewing, and lacks silver spots.

Its name is derived from the complex, variegated pattern of brown, orange and white scaling on its underside.

In contrast, the Gulf Fritillary is a brighter orange and longer-winged. A medium-sized butterfly, the Variegated Fritillary has some similarities to the smaller crescent butterflies.

Beneath, the wings appear as a dead leaf, with an array of spots and patches in shades of brown.

Characteristics of the Variegated Fritillary

The Variegated Fritillary is often found in open fields, farmland, prairies and roadsides. It features a low, erratic flight and is difficult to approach and photograph. This butterfly loves a variety of flowers, as shown in the photos below on this page.

Unable to survive freezing weather, it is common in the south, but sometimes ventures as far north as New England and Canada. Adults migrate from the south in the spring, and then back south as winter approaches.

It will produce 2-3 broods per year.

Its size is in the 1.75" - 2.75" range. Females are larger than the males.

Nectar and Host Plants Used by the Variegated Fritillary

The Variegated Fritillary will use a variety of flowers for nectar, such as Zinnias, Milkweed, Butterfly Bush and others.

Host plants for the Variegated Fritillary include Passion vines, violets, Pansies, Purslane, Mayapple, Flax, others. Shown below is a flower on a native Texas Passion vine.

Variegated Fritillary Life Cycle Stages and Times

Stage Typical Duration
Egg stage 10 to 15 days
Caterpillar (larval) stage Overwinters
Chrysalis (pupal) stage 14 to 14 days
Adult butterfly stage 2 to 10 weeks

 

Blossom on native Texas Passion Vine, a host plant for the Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Shown in the photo below is the fruit of a native Texas Passion Vine, commonly called Maypop.

The fruit of a native Texas Passion Vine, commonly called Maypop


 

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

The 2" long Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar has an orange body marked by black stripes and white spots, and branching spines, as shown in the photos below. Despite their spines and threatening appearance, they do not sting!

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar

 

Variegated Fritillary Chrysalis

The chrysalis of the Variegated Fritillary is a shiny, pearl-colored white, and looks like an expensive piece of jewelry!

It is mottled with small black and brown spots and streaks, along with rows of shiny gold spikes.

Variegated Fritillary chrysalis


 

Photos of the Adult Variegated Fritillary Butterfly

Variegated Fritillary Butterfly on Milkweed
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly


Variegated Fritillary Butterfly on Butterfly Bush
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly


Variegated Fritillary Butterfly on Pink Zinnia
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly on Pink Zinnia


Variegated Fritillary Butterfly (dorsal view) warming itself on stone
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly warming itself on concrete


Variegated Fritillary Butterfly (ventral view) on Passion vine
Variegated Fritillary Butterfly ventral view