...................................... Click on photo to enlarge
The Silver-bordered Fritillary is the smallest of the fritillaries with silver spots on the underwings. They are members of the brush-foot family of butterflies, which means they have shortened front legs like a preying mantis, or T-Rex, if you will. But fritillaries restrict their diet to nectar as adults and strictly violets as caterpillars.
In fact, it is the rarity of the host plant that accounts for the rarity of this species. You see, Silver-border Frits only like Northern Bog Violets, Viola nephrophylla, which in turn only like wet places. And since we have been terribly fond of draining our wet places, we have a real shortage of bog violets - and Silver-bordered butterflies.
Spreading its wings to a maximum of two inches, Silver-border Frits have a distinctive white edging. Size wise, and color wise, it would be easy to mistake this rarity for a common Meadow Fritillary- but a thorough scan of the border tells the whole story.
We are looking at winged gold!
Silvery Crescentspot and Pearl Crescent
There are several other confusing species among these golden wings of summer. Also in the two-inch-and-under category is the deeper shaded Silvery Crescentspot (left). They are members of the brush-foots too, and are in the same genus as the Checkerspots. For quick identification, I look for several round open cells in the spots on the hind wing. This is when a careful study of the dorsal edge makes all the difference!
The smaller butterfly to the right is our gold standard of measurement, the Pearl Crescent. Stretching out at 1-1.5 inches, Ohio's most common butterfly feeds on asters as a larva, and nectars at flowers as an adult.
Get to know your Pearl Crescent well, and if something looks a little too big, or a bit too bright- you'll know it is time to call out the Border Patrol!