Euptoieta claudia

Variegated Fritillary

This species is usually described as a rare stray from Arizona, but in the New York and Providence Mountains there are sometimes transient colonies. I saw several on April 17th and May 3rd, 2022 in the New York Mountains. Seeing them was a surprise, especially given the time of year. Last year, there were several sightings of this species in the autumn in various parts of southern California. It's possible that they were breeding here last fall and have emerged this spring, which would explain the freshness of many of the ones I've seen here; some look like they just eclosed. On April 17th, the sun was out and they were taking nectar from the blooming Ericameria linearifolia along the road after 3:30 p.m. I didn't see any on the way in, but they were conspicuous as I was leaving in the afternoon. On May 3rd I walked the area much more, and they were taking nectar on various small flowers off the road, with fewer visiting the roadside asters. I thought that this second visit would likely only turn up worn individuals, if any, but they were fresher than what I saw two weeks earlier. I wanted to determine a larval food plant but saw no females take interest in anything. A possible food plant there is the purple flowered Lewis' flax (Linum lewisii), but I may have seen just one of these.

Euptoieta claudia - the variegated fritillary from the New Yorks Mountains in the Mojave Preserve
The Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia), taking nectar in Caruther's Canyon in the New York Mountains, which are in the Mojave National Preserve. May 3, 2022.
Euptoieta claudia - the variegated fritillary from the New Yorks Mountains in the Mojave Preserve
Beautiful day, beautiful butterfly. Same place and time as above.
Euptoieta claudia - the variegated fritillary from the New Yorks Mountains in the Mojave Preserve
These were skittish in the afternoon sun as they went from flower to flower in Caruther's Canyon. April 17, 2022.

©Dennis Walker