Fritillaries and Violets

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Fritillary butterflies are common in Kentucky. I enjoy seeing them in our backyard and want to encourage them. This is an image of a Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele) feeding on purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) last summer.

Speyeria cybele butterfly

Adult fritillaries feed on a wide variety of flowers. However, caterpillars are dependent on violets as a major food source (host plant). In fact, Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars only eat violet leaves, and without violets we wouldn’t have these butterflies.

Common blue violets (Viola papilionacea) are indeed common, growing in woods, meadows, roadsides, and lawns. Because they are so abundant it’s easy to overlook their scalloped heart-shaped leaves and attractive bright purple blossoms. The flowers are even edible.

Viola papilionacea

One drawback to violets is that they can spread, and my husband won’t be happy if they get in the lawn. I’ve planted a small patch and hope to keep them contained. I’m curious to see if fritillaries find them and I’ll be watching for caterpillars.

4 thoughts on “Fritillaries and Violets”

  1. Oh! I’m going to get in trouble with H.H. H. but I am so glad I don’t have a lawn! I have grass and weeds and a diverse selection of othergrowing things sprinkled with vioets and, although I’ve never seen them, I hopethere are fritillaries feeding on them.

    1. Beth, I, too, could be quite happy not having a lawn. However, Harry does enjoy having grass. We do have less than we once did – one of many compromises.☺

  2. Lol to Beth! And what a wonderful blog site, Betty. Kudos to you and Brian. It is clean and bright and easy to navigate. I love it! And I really love the non-obtrusive arrows up top to take you easily to newer and older posts. That is awesome. I’ve just subscribed and I look forward to future posts as I continue to explore past blogs as well. I really enjoy your beautiful pictures as I learn all sorts of new and fun stuff. You’ve very nicely snuck in some great “education time” here!

    1. Thanks for the feedback and for subscribing, Keli. It’s nice to know there are folks who are interested.

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