Aphrodite fritillary

(Speyeria aphrodite)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Aphrodite fritillary


N5 - Secure

S5 - Secure


not listed




One brood; late June to early September


Cool areas; moist prairies, fields, forest edges and openings, and roadsides.


Wingspan: 2½ to 3¼



This is a medium-sized fritillary butterfly. The coloration is somewhat variable. The wingspan is 2½ to 3¼.

The uppersides of both wings are orange, cinnamon-brown toward the center, with black stripes, spots, and chevrons. On the outer margin there is a band (marginal band) of spots that have dark borders and are separated by heavy, dark veins. On most individuals the spots on the forewing band, especially toward the wing tip, are black and indistinct, giving the appearance of a broad black border. On some individuals all of the spots in this band are orange and distinct, even at the wing tip. The spots on the hindwing band are always orange, never black. There is a submarginal band of chevron-shaped black spots, a postmedial band of round black spots, and a medial band with black stripes. The wing veins of the middle portion of the forewing are not bordered with black scales. There is a black spot at the base of the forewing below the forewing cell. This “extra” black spot is a unique identifying feature of this species.

The underside of the forewing is mostly orange, orangish-brown toward the center, with an orangish-brown marginal band, black markings mirroring those on the upperside, and a few large white spots near the tip.

The underside of the hindwing is reddish-brown, with a submarginal row of 7 silvery spots, a postmedial row of 6 large and 1 small silvery spots, and several silvery spots in the discal area. On S. a. alcestis, the two rows of spots are separated by a narrow yellowish band. The yellowish band does not surround any part of the large postmedial spots. On S. a. aphrodite there is no discernible yellow submarginal band.

The eyes are yellowish-green.

The caterpillar is mostly black and up to 2¼ long. The head is orange above, black below. Each abdominal segment has 5 branched, spike-like projections (scoli), one on the upper (dorsal) surface, and on each side one in the subdorsal area and one in the spiracular area. The lower half of the subdorsal and spiracular scoli are orange or tan. The dorsal scoli are all black. Mature caterpillars are found in late May and June.


Great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele) is a slightly larger butterfly, with a wingspan of up to 3½. On most individuals all of the spots in marginal band of the upperside of the forewing are orange and distinct, even at the wing tip. The wing veins of the middle portion of the forewing are thick. There is no “extra” black spot at the base of the forewing. On the underside of the forewing the white spots at the tip are smaller. The yellowish band separating the rows of silvery spots on the underside of the hindwing is wide, is always present, and partially surrounds all of the postmedial spots. The eyes are brownish-orange.

Larval Food

Violet leaves

Adult Food

Flower nectar

Life Cycle

Males emerge in late June or July, 2 to 4 weeks before the females. Females lay eggs on the ground near violets in late August or early September, shortly before they die. Males die before females. The eggs hatch in the fall. The newly hatched caterpillars overwinter, not feeding until the spring.



Distribution Distribution Map   Distribution Map Sources: 7, 20, 21, 29, 71.


There are eight named subspecies of Speyeria aphrodite in North America. Three of these occur in Minnesota. The area of overlap of the subspecies is very narrow, suggesting reproductive incompatibility. S. a. aphrodite is an East Coast subspecies whose range extends into the Great Lakes region, S. a. alcestis occurs in the tallgrass prairies of the southern Great Plains, and S. a. manitoba occurs the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. The subspecies are distinguished by size and brightness.



Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)











No Rank:



No Rank:




Papilionoidea (butterflies [excluding skippers])



Nymphalidae (brush-foots)



Heliconiinae (longwings, fritillaries and silverspots)







Subordinate Taxa

Speyeria aphrodite alcestis

Speyeria aphrodite aphrodite

Speyeria aphrodite byblis

Speyeria aphrodite columbia

Speyeria aphrodite cullasaja

Speyeria aphrodite ethne

Speyeria aphrodite manitoba

Speyeria aphrodite whitehousei

Speyeria aphrodite winni


Speyeris aphrodite


Aphrodite fritillary









A spiny, branched projection from a larval body wall, the branches terminating with a single stiff, hair-like or bristle-like tip. Plural: scoli.



A small opening on the surface of an insect through which the insect breathes.


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Speyeria aphrodite aphrodite (subspecies identification based on range, not morphology)

  Aphrodite fritillary   Aphrodite fritillary
  Aphrodite fritillary   Aphrodite fritillary









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Other Videos

  Aphrodite Fritillary (Speyeria aphrodite) Butterfly on the Superior Hiking Trail
Michael Gorrilla

Uploaded on Jul 21, 2010

HD macro movie of a butterfly in MN, I believe I have identified it correctly in the title. I saw this guy while hiking the Superior Hiking Trail along Minnesota's Northshore last week.

  Aphrodite Fritillary

Uploaded on Jul 13, 2011

An Aphrodite Fritillary butterfly.

Filmed by Damienf77:
July 13, 2011





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