New Jersey Butterflies

Aphrodite Fritillary

Speyeria aphrodite

Identification: Medium—2.8" (smaller than Monarch). Very similar to Great Spangled Fritillary. Above: FW bright orange with a row of black spots, numerous irregular black bands, and a small, isolated black spot in inner area (Great Spangled lacks this spot); HW with concentric rows of black markings, giving an overall more spotted appearance than Monarch (also lacks Monarch’s black borders on both wings). Below: FW bright orange and brown, with pale spots toward tip, irregular black bands, and a rosy flush toward base; HW brownish-orange with two bands of shiny, silvery spots separated by a narrow (almost nonexistent), cream-colored band. Because of the narrow pale band Aphrodite appears darker below than Great Spangled, which has a wide pale band.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident? A northern and western species that is rare in NJ. Generally reported only during large outbreaks of Great Spangled Fritillary and even then only 1 or 2 are reported in a season by the most active observers. Within the past 20 years or so reported only from Somerset, Morris, Warren, and Sussex counties. Formerly more widespread but probably always most likely in the northwestern counties.

NJ Range Map-Aphrodite Fritillary

Habitat: Open, sunny, uplands and wetlands with abundant wildflowers such as milkweeds and Wild Bergamot. Can be attracted to gardens with nectar plants such as Purple Coneflower, milkweeds, and Butterfly Bush.

Flight Period: One extended flight period from mid-June to early October (most reported in July and August). Extreme dates: 6/19—9/27.

Larval Food Plants: Violets (Viola). Female lays eggs near, but not on, violets in late summer.

Overwintering Stage: First-instar larvae.

Best Locations: Fields in the Delaware Water Gap NRA and Flatbrook-Roy and Walpack WMAs.

Comments: Seeing an Aphrodite in NJ is tantamount to seeing a Red-headed Woodpecker—only better! Reason enough to celebrate by heading for the nearest ice cream parlor.

Aphrodite Fritillary

Saranac Lake, NY, 7/29/04.

Aphrodite Fritillary

Sussex Co., NJ, 7/11/08.