I learned something new yesterday. I’ve never been that great at identifying butterfly species but the butterfly I always thought was Great Spangled Fritillary may not be.
There are three species of greater fritillaries found in New England: Great Spangled, Atlantis, and Aphrodite. All three are almost identical. I’ve probably seen them all and believed them to be one, the Great Spangled. Vermont naturalist Mary Holland blogged about the difference yesterday on Naturally Curious with Mary Holland.
It’s all in the eyes. If the eyes are amber, it’s a Great Spangled. If the eyes are blue-gray, it’s an Atlantis Fritillary, and if the eyes are yellow-green, it’s an Aphrodite Fritillary.
Armed with this new information, I was curious about the one (above) that visited my zinnias today so I inched as close as I could. Amber eyes! Definitely a Great Spangled Fritillary! What fun to learn something new.