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Genus Boloria - Lesser Fritillaries

Fritillary - Boloria bellona Boloria - Boloria freija - female Fritillary on tundra, Quebec - Boloria chariclea - female Alaskan fritillary - Boloria chariclea Butterfly On Frederick Street #4 - Boloria bellona - female silver-bordered fritillary - Boloria selene Fritillary? - Boloria epithore Boloria
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)
Subfamily Heliconiinae (Heliconians and Fritillaries)
Tribe Argynnini (Fritillaries)
Genus Boloria (Lesser Fritillaries)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
includes Clossiana and Proclossiana as subgenera or synonyms, following the classification of Opler and Warren and All-Leps (see discussion in Taxonomy Forum)
Boloria Moore 1900. Type species: Boloria pales Denis & Schiffermüller
Clossiana Reuss 1920. Type species: Papilio selene Denis & Schiffermüller [= Boloria (Clossiana) selene (Denis & Schiffermüller)]
Proclossiana Reuss 1920. Type species: Papilio aphirape Hübner [= Boloria (Proclossiana) eunomia (Esper)]
Smoljana Slivov 1995. Type species: Boloria rhodopensis Slivov [= Boloria (Boloria) graeca balcanica (Rebel)]
Explanation of Names
subgenus Boloria includes:
Boloria alaskensis, and roughly three or four additional closely similar species in Eurasia (there are many names, several of dubius and debated distinction).
subgenus Proclossiana includes only :
Boloria eunomia
subgenus Clossiana includes all remaining species, which can be arranged into the following groups based on genitalia and pattern. Each group has additional members in Eurasia:
Selene Group: B. selene
Euphrosyne Group: B. chariclea
Freija Group: B. freija, natazhati
Polaris Group: B. alberta, astarte, polaris
Bellona Group: B. bellona, epithore, frigga, improba, kriemhild

Species names in Boloria are confusing, as different authors may use different names for the same insect. Part of this is due to disagreement on where species distinctions lie, and thus as to just how many species there really are. Also, it is debated whether a number of our North American representatives are different species or the same as counterparts in Eurasia, also affecting the names used.
14 species in North America listed at BOA
wingspan 35-55 mm
Smaller than the Greater Fritillaries, mostly orange above with black markings. Hindwing underside has a different pattern than Greater Frittillaries, and usually lacks silvered spots (except in Boloria selene). Seeing the distinct markings of each species on the hindwing underside is the best way to identify them; however, most can be identified by a combination of where and when seen and appearance even when only the upper side is observed.
Alaska and all of Canada, including arctic islands, plus northern United States, south in the Appalachians to North Carolina, the Rockies to New Mexico, and the west coast to California.
also represented by +/- 10 species (some the same as ours) throughout much of Eurasia.
Primarily boreal and mountain in fields, wet meadows, bogs, arctic tundra, mountain tops, disturbed areas, and many other open settings.
Larvae of most species feed on Violets. Others feed on Willow, Blueberry, Saxifrage, Mountain Avens, etc. Adults nectar at many flower species and will often sip moisture from the ground.
Life Cycle
Some (mostly Arctic and high mountain) species fly only every other year. Most overwinter as partly grown larvae, while biennial species overwinter as newly hatched larvae and again (2nd winter) as partly grown larvae.
These low-flying butterflies are constantly on the move, giving few opportunities for good looks at the markings on the hindwing underside.
See Also
Greater Fritillaries are similar on the forewing underside but on the hindwing underside they have a complex pattern of pale, usually metallic silver spots. The Lesser Fritillaries have complex patterns on the hindwing underside but usually lack silver spots (except in Boloria selene)
Checkerspots and Crescents lack a complete submarginal band on the forewing
Print References
(1) (2) (3)
Internet References
pinned adult images of all 14 species in North America, with links to species accounts and US distribution maps (
list of Eurasian species with distribution maps, links to images, synonyms, foodplants, references (Markku Savela, FUNET)
Works Cited
1.Butterflies of North America (Kaufman Focus Guides)
Jim P. Brock, Kenn Kaufman. 2003. Houghton Mifflin Co.
2.Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West : A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Western North America (Butterflies and Others Thr
Jeffrey Glassberg. 2001. Oxford University Press.
3.Butterflies of the East Coast : An Observer's Guide
Rick Cech, Guy Tudor. 2005. Princeton University Press.