VARIEGATED Fritillary & GULF FRITILLARY

Variegated Fritillaries are gorgeous butterflies. When seen in full sunlight, they remind me of stained glass. They are larger than Meadow Fritillaries, but a little smaller than Great Spangled Fritillaries.

This Variegated Fritillary was photographed along the Great Miami River in Miamisburg. Variegated Fritillaries are migrants to our area. Riverways are good places to look for migratory species such as these gorgeous butterflies. 

Ventral view of a Variegated Fritillary. This species can be distinguished from Great Spangled Fritillaries and Gulf Fritillaries by the lack of white spots on the undersurface of their wings. Also, when looking at the upper surface of their wings, note the two light-colored ovals on either side of the head. 

Until 2016, I thought of Variegated Fritillaries as a rather uncommon species. However, they have shown up in our area in good numbers the last few years. They prefer open, sunny, and grassy habitat such as meadows and prairies. 

The butterfly at left is a Gulf Fritillary. This species is common in the southern U.S., but a rare stray to Ohio. The individual at left is my only sighting of this species in Ohio. I photographed her at Cox Arboretum on August 14, 2019. 

Gulf Fritillaries have large white spots and streaks on the ventral surface of their wings. This butterfly is the same individual as the one above. She was nectaring on zinnias in a garden at Cox Arboretum, and also ovipositing on several large passionflower vines. Passionflower is this species' host plant, and it was undoubtedly what attracted this butterfly to the location where I spotted her. A warming climate might bring more Gulf Fritillaries to Ohio in the years to come.