Once known, Fritillaries are mostly recognizable on sight. Small to large butterflies, with mostly orange uppersides patterned with black lines, dashes and spots. The underside is patterned similarly on the front wings, but the hindwings are usually crossbanded or striated with pale and dark, or may have prominent, often silvered light spots. The antennae have wide relatively flattened clubs. A few large species deviate from the basic pattern, but all are highly distinctive in appearance, and cannot easily be confused with anything else.
Most Crescents and Checkerspots (Melitaeini) are somewhat similar, but all are small in size. None have a row of rounded dark postmedian spots on the front wings as do Fritillaries, and most lack similar rounded spots on the hind wings as well. Even though not particularly closely related, they are also called Fritillaries in Europe, but not generally so in North America.
The caterpillars are typical of Nymphalidae, appearing spiny, with rows of branched "scoli" (elongate conical projections with shorter side branches). In this subfamily there are is no mid-dorsal row of scoli, only paired lateral rows. The head is basically smooth with no prominent scoli or horns; however, the pair of scoli just back of the head may be elongated and project forward over the head.
The pupae are easily confused with those of some of the Nymphalinae, being relatively rounded with the head end rounded or with two blunt points. There are paired rows of pointed conical projections on the dorsal side, but there is no mid-dorsal row. Often the projections are metalic gold, silver, or reddish, and often there are patches of metalic elsewhere; or, in some species the entire surface may be somewhat metalic. Many species pupate near or even on the ground, sometimes lying among debris, but most often hanging from some low well hidded support.
Worldwide, but primarily in Eurasia and North America, represented further south by few genera and species, mostly in high mountains.
Primarily open sunny meadow areas where hostplants grow and flowers (particularly Asteraceae) are abundant.
Primarily Violets (Viola), but occasionally other plants mostly in related families such as Salicaceae, Linaceae, Turneraceae, and Passifloraceae. A few are recorded to feed on Asteraceae, Polygonaceae, and Ericaceae.
Adults are avid flower visitors, and especially seem fond of Ironweed, Thistles, and various yellow-flowering Composites.
Most have one brood of adults per season, usually in spring or early summer, but a few are later, flying into autumn. Euptoieta occurs in multiple broods. Overwintering is primarily as young larvae, but in Euptoieta may be in any stage in mild climates.
These are active butterflies that tend to fly about constantly, and would be very difficult to observe if they weren't so fond of stopping at flowers. They are often associated with mountain meadows and are a familiar sight to anyone who spends summers in such places.
Euptoieta is an odd bedfollow in this tribe, and has similarities also with the Old World tribe Vagrantini, and perhaps with the South American genus Yramea. It is traditionally included with the Argynnini, but may eventually be found to be better placed elsewhere. The Vagrantini has only relatively recently been recognized as separate from the Argynnini.