Wisconsin Native Caterpillars
Great Spangled Fritillary Caterpillar
Genus-Species: Speyeria cybele
Description: Large, velvety black caterillars have
several rows of black spines with red/orange bases. Caterpillars also have a bulb-shaped
osmeteria-like gland located under the head. It emits a musky odor if the caterpillar is alarmed.
First instar caterpillars look like tiny black fuzz balls.
Chrysalis: Chunky and brown. Hangs in a loosely
constructed silken tent.
Host Plants: Various Violet species (Viola species).
Habitat: Open fields and woodland edges. Can be found
in both wet and dry habitats.
Comments: The Great Spangled Fritillary is found
throughout the state from late June through August and into early September. The species is
long-lived and many individuals that are found in late August and September are very worn with
frayed and even missing parts and wings. They are often seen at nectar sources such as Common
Milkweed, thistles, or Joe-Pye-Weed alongside the Aphrodite Fritillary in the southern part of the
state, and in the northern counties with the Atlantis Fritillary.
Caterpillars come in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Some caterpillars are quite hairy,
while others are smooth. Despite differences between species, though, all caterpillars
share certain morphological features.
Take this quick quiz and see how much you know about caterpillars. This quiz is intended for fun, in
a random-facts-can-be-cool kind of way.
How does this magic happen? Learn about metamorphosis - the process of transformation from an
immature form to an adult bitterfly.