There is no butterfly on earth that can be mistaken for a regal fritillary. Its bright-orange fore wings with a deep orange-brown border may appear common, but its velvety blackish hind wings are unique. Both sexes have two rows of spots along the hind wings - cream on females, cream and orange on males. Its wingspan is relatively large, 2.5-4 inches from tip to tip.
The regal fritillary is found in tall-grass prairies and wet grassy areas mostly in the central United States - including Iowa, Minnesota and Missouri, either extirpated or critically endangered in the American east.
Females may lay up to 1,000 eggs in August and September at the base of violets. They hatch after three to four weeks, and the small larvae hibernate without feeding, becoming active again in spring, usually in April. The pupal stage lasts only about three weeks. The velvety black larva enters the mottled brown pupa and emerges a beautiful, though rather short-lived, butterfly.
Adults males live about a month, females closer to two. During their brief adult life, regal fritillaries feed on nectar, mostly from milkweeds, thistles, alfalfa and ironweeds. They become so engrossed in nectaring that they may be picked up by hand, though this is not recommended because the species is becoming increasingly rare due to habitat loss and fragmentation.September 28, 2012