Sunday, October 7, 2012

Female Diana Fritillary (Speyeria diana)

September 1st – 2nd, 2012. It was the Labor Day (US) holiday weekend so we took the opportunity to make an overnight trip into the  Chattahoochee National Forest. After making our way out of the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management Area, we drove up to Blue Ridge for the night. We retraced our way up the Noontootla River Valley through the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area as we had in Mid-December 2011 but, instead of driving southwest, we drove north on Winding Stair Gap and Rock Creek Roads.

We caught our first glimpse of the female Diana Fritillary on a thistle mid-afternoon on September 1st. It was high above the road and we had no hope of stalking it. I didn’t have my butterfly guide with me so we had to wait until we got wifi access later in the evening to identify this butterfly. We’d never seen a Diana Fritillary before. Although some have been sighted in the DeKalb-Fulton-Cherokee-Bartow-Paulding county area, most sightings are in north Georgia counties. These butterflies are more common in the Appalachian region Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The first butterfly we saw. Enough for an identification. This is a large butterfly, the size of a swallowtail and about twice the size of the Variagated (Euptoletea claudia) and Gulf (Agraulis vanillae) fritillaries we see in our area. At first I thought it was a swallowtail.

Late in the afternoon, we encountered two females feeding on a thistle growing beside the ridge road in Coopers Creek WMA

 Near the fish hatchery in the BlueRidge WMA.

Then we were treated a great display by two females on thistles growing by a bridge crossing a small creek on Rock Creek Road.

It was clear that the butterflies enjoy the thistles. This butterfly is covered with pollen.

A closer view

We didn’t see any male Diana Fritillaries. W caught a glimpse, at a distance, of a butterfly he thought was a Mourning Cloak. It’s very likely that this was a male Diana Fritillary but…  Finding the males will have to be a goal for next year.
Click on an image to view a closer image

Identification resources:
- Butterflies and Moths of North America: Speyeria diana (Diana Fritillary)
- BugGuide: Speyeria diana (Diana Fritillary) [Female] [Male]


Related posts:
- Blue Ridge WMA: Noontootla River Valley to Springer Mountain Junction
- Blue Ridge WMA: The North Route  
- Tough Life For A Milkweed: Aphis nerii & Oncopeltus fasciatus 
- Over The Hills And Through The Woods: Noontootla Creek And Springer Mountain

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