People say that bird identification is hard and it can be, I do well with most bird identifications but I’m here to tell you that butterfly identification is much more of a challenge for me when it comes to some species such as fritillary butterflies.
Fritillary butterfly on a Musk Thistle – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
Yesterday while I was up in the mountains I spotted a butterfly on a Musk thistle and took some images of it as it nectared on the thistle. My brain immediately said “Fritillary” and for that moment that was, for me, a sufficient ID because I figured that later on I’d be able to narrow down the identification of the species.
Ar first I was convinced that this butterfly was a Great Spangled Fritillary but after finding out how many species of fritillary butterflies can be found in Utah I became less convinced of my butterfly identification skills. Male and female fritillary butterflies look different from each other and although those differences can be subtle that makes it even more of a challenge. I have a huge book called “The Dictionary of Butterflies and Moths” by Allan Watson and Paul E.S. Whalley and honestly going through it just confused me more. I also looked in my copy of “National Geographic Illustrated Guide to Wildlife” and no joy, I couldn’t pin down the ID. Looking on line wasn’t much help either because there can be so many misidentifications shared on the web.
Fritillary butterfly – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
So, I’m going to ask for help later on today from bugguide.net with the identification of this fritillary butterfly. I don’t normally have to ask for identification assistance but I need it for this other thing with wings. Bird ID is much easier for me.
If I get the ID sorted out I will update this post.
Life is good.
P.S., the spots under the wings of the butterfly aren’t pink, they are just picking up the pink from the thistle, they are actually more of a silvery white than is seen in this bottom image.
These are fritillary butterflies that can be found in Utah:
Agraulis vanillae incarnata (gulf fritillary)
Euptoieta claudia (variegated fritillary)
Speyeria cybele letona (letona fritillary)
Speyeria cybele charlotti (great spangled fritillary)
Speyeria aphrodite ethne (aphrodite fritillary)
Speyeria nokomis nokomis (nokomis fritillary)
Speyeria nokomis apacheana (nokomis fritillary)
Speyeria edwardsi (Edwards fritillary)
Speyeria coronis snyderi (coronis fritillary)
Speyeria zerene platina (zerene fritillary)
Speyeria callippe harmonia (callippe fritillary)
Speyeria egleis utahensis (great basin fritillary)
Speyeria egleis linda (great basin fritillary)
Speyeria hesperis wasatchia (northwestern fritillary)
Speyeria hesperis chitone (northwestern fritillary)
Speyeria hydaspe sakantula (hydaspe fritillary)
Speyeria mormonia mormonia (mormon fritillary)
Speyeria mormonia eurynome (mormon fritillary)
Boloria selene tollandensis (silver-bordered fritillary)
Boloria kriemhild kriemhild (relict fritillary)
Boloria freija browni (freija fritillary)
Boloria chariclea helena (arctic fritillary)