Tag Archives: Great Spangled Fritillary


Here’s how you can help choose the Massachusetts state butterfly –

The choice is between the Black Swallowtail, the Great Spangled Fritillary, and the Mourning Cloak butterflies. All three are beautiful species of Lepidoptera, but as you know from my work, I am partial to the Black Swallowtail. I cast my vote for the Black Swallowtail and here is why. Both the Great Spangled Fritillary and Mourning Cloak are less commonly seen. I’d like children who are developing an interest in butterflies to have the opportunity to get to know their state butterfly easily. Black Swallowtails are widespread and very well-known. In a good year, Black Swallowtails will have two broods. The caterpillars eat plants kids can easily identify and plant, such as carrots, dill, fennel, parsley, and the common wildflower Queen Anne’s Lace. Black Swallowtails are typically on the wing throughout the summer, beginning in early spring through late summer.

On the other hand, the Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars eat strictly violet plants. This butterfly is usually only seen for about a month, during mid-summer, and has one brood of caterpillars. In our region of Massachusetts, the Mourning Cloak may have a second brood, if we have an early spring, but I only see them in spring, near pussywillows, and again in the fall when they are getting ready to hibernate.

Black Swallowtails are found in backyards, gardens, meadows, marshes, and along the shoreline. They love to drink nectar from wildflowers, including milkweed (as you can see in the short film below) and many, many common garden plants such as lilacs, coneflowers, zinnias, and butterfly bush.


great-spangled-fritillary-coneflower-gloucester-harborwalk-copyright-kim-smithGreat Spangled Fritillary at the Gloucester Harbor Butterfly Garden
mourning_cloak_butterfly_in_south_central_alaskaMourning Cloak image courtesy wiki commons media

Lecture Wednesday Night at the Pepperell Garden Club: The Pollinator Garden

7- HW Summer ©Kim Smith 2012Gloucester HarborWalk

On Wednesday evening, November 13th, at 7 pm, I will be giving my program, “The Pollinator Garden,” for the Pepperell Garden Club. Following the rhythm of the seasons, I present a slide show and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. I hope you will come join me!

6- HW Great Spangled Fritillary ©Kim Smith 2012 copyGreat Spangled Fritillary at the Gloucester HarborWalk

Chickity Check It! Kim Smith Updates With The Great Spangled Fritillary

Dear Gardening Friends,

Events and projects have kept me from writing these past few weeks. Design work and the start of the new school year have played a part, however, what has really kept me away is that I am working like mad to complete the Monarch book illustrations. The glorious weather and warmth, light and air have exhilarated and inspired (along with the caterpillars and butterflies that have taken over our kitchen!). With writing and photographing, I can work around design projects and my family’s schedule, but with painting I need long stretches of time. As soon as the illustrations are completed i will turn my full attention to the tv show. I take breaks from painting at around the peak time of day when the pollinators are on the wing and have been gathering tons and tons of footage.

Renovating our little apartment has kept me away as well. Our wonderful tenant of ten years purchased her own home and moved out this past month. Ten years is a long time and we miss her terribly. My husband and i have been scouring and scrubbing and painting, and with several fresh coats, the place is sparkling. The apartment is charming and sunny, with hardwood floors, private entrance through the garden, and would make a great artist’s or writer’s studio, office space, pied-à-terre, or modest home. It is within walking distance of Good Harbor Beach, Niles Beach, Rocky Neck, Gloucester Stage Company, and several fabulous restaurants (Duckworth’s Bistro!). Please pass along this information if you know of an interested person.

Great Spangleds are on the wing at this time of year. They adore fresh blossoms of butterfly bushes. With this year’s drought I realize it has been particularly difficult, but try to keep your butterfly bushes well-hydrated so that they will continue to produce new blossoms during the remaining weeks of late summer, while there are still myriad species of pollinators needing fortification. Additional photos of Great Spangled Fritillaries and Monarchs are on the blog at www.kimsmithdesigns.wordpress.com.

Warmest wishes,


Welcome Oh Great Spangled Fritillary!


Singularly beautiful—large and rounded with tawny orange wings checkered with black dots and dashes—when observed from above. When wings are folded, this fritillary shows a striking underwing pattern of spangled spots, bordered by a wide yellow band and outlined in iridescent crescents. Perhaps the Great Spangled Fritillary has graced your garden. I had never encountered this creature of extraordinary beauty until the summer after we planted violets dug from a wildly unkempt cemetery. They were common violets (Viola sororia). I don’t recommend the common violet for a small garden, unless you desire a garden composed entirely of common violets. Please don’t misunderstand; I do not regret planting V. sororia because otherwise I may never have encountered the Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele). No, I am glad to have welcomed this beauty to our garden. There are, however, far better behaved violets that are of equal importance to the fritillary caterpillars and they would be a far better choice for the garden. Both native wildflowers Labrador violet (Viola labradorica) and Canada violet (Viola canadensis) naturalize readily, making rulier groundcovers than common violets, and are lovely when in bloom and when not in flower.

For the Rest Of Kim’s Post Including Her Fantastic Butterfly Photos Click Here!