A week or two ago Dan caught this butterfly and brought it to me to show me, and in case I wanted pictures. I forgot to ask him how he caught it, but I’m going to assume it was with my sweep net that’s propped on the front porch (he has caught butterflies by hand before, though, early in the morning while they’re still cool. He’s got an amazing touch for holding these critters; I wouldn’t trust myself to do that).
This one is a Great Spangled Fritillary, Speyeria cybele. I tend not to think of fritillaries as very common because I don’t see them very often compared to other species, though they’re not exactly rare. The Great Spangled is among the most widespread and abundant, found across much of the continent. The name comes from the silvery white spots on the underside of the hindwing, visible when the butterfly folds its wings (see below). All members of the genus lay their eggs on various violet species (Viola spp.), which are certainly in abundance around here.
After I’d taken a couple of photos Dan let the butterfly go, but instead of flying away it turned and fluttered back to his body for a few moments. It’s possible it was attracted to the salts of the sweat on his skin, something that I’ve had happen on rare occasion.