North American Range
The Variegated Fritillary is a southern butterfly and for the most part overwinters in frost-free areas, though there is a colony as far north as Quebec City on a nearby St. Lawrence River island. The first northward migrants of the year tend to be worn. Males patrol low in open areas for mates and females lay single eggs on hostplant stems and leaves. Larvae feed at night.
Upperside tawny orange with thick dark veins and markings; black spots near margin. Hindwing margin angled and slightly scalloped. Underside of hindwing with a mottled pattern and no silver spots.
Adults fly north from their permanent southern range in spring, typically reaching New England by summer. In Massachusetts, females have been observed ovipositing from early August until late October. Two reports of larvae in Vermont suggest much earlier breeding: four larvae found on 21 July 2000 in the North Branch Nature Center butterfly garden in Montpelier (S. Sawyer) and during VBS on 13 July 2006 in Middletown (S. Martineau). Early dates suggest that breeding may occur even earlier in some years. Extreme dates: 30 May 2004 in Chester (M. Reiter) 1 June 1991 in South Burlington (J.R. Grehan), 6 October 2001 in Hardwick (J. Schneider), and 6 October 2002 in Norwich (C. Rimmer).
Distribution and Habitat
Widely scattered records throughout Vermont both historically and during VBS. They tend to be generalists, gravitating to open, disturbed habitats. Caterpillars observed feeding on a violets (Viola) in Vermont. Adults nectar on milkweed (Asclepias), dogbane (Apocynum), dandelion (Taraxacum), red clover (Trifolium pratense), and others. Males puddle.