E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Wildlife of British Columbia

Boloria alberta Reuss, 1920
Albert's Fritillary; Lesser Fritillaries
Family: Nymphalidae (Brushfoots)
Species account authors: Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard.
Extracted from Butterflies of British Columbia
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC

Photo of species

© Norbert Kondla  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #5493)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Boloria alberta in British Columbia
Details about map content are available here.

Species Information


Adults of Albert's Fritillary appear to be melanic and greasy, especially the females. This, however, is the normal appearance of the species and is an easy way to distinguish it from other Clossiana species that occur with it in BC. Most books discuss this species in conjunction with C. tritonia because they have the same habitat, but the two species are not closely related. Dubutolov and Shepard (in prep.) are revising the species in these two sections of Clossiana. Clossiana alberta is closely related to both C. polaris and C. erda (Christoph, 1893).

Immature Stages



None. The type locality of the species is Laggan [vicinity Lake Louise], AB.

Genus Description

Reuss (1922) stated that he named the genus Clossiana for the recognized entomologist Herr Adolf G. Closs, but it appears that Closs was only a minor worker on Lepidoptera. The common name "lesser fritillaries" refers to the small size compared with Speyeria.

Under the restricted generic usage of Boloria, we state why we recognize the genus Clossiana and define the genus. On the upperside, the wings are very similar to those of Speyeria. Some males of one species of Speyeria, S. mormonia, are as small as the largest females of our largest Clossiana, C. tritonia. Only one species, Clossiana selene, has silver spots on the ventral hindwing. This genus is Holarctic, with at least 21 species; 13 are found in North America and 12 of these occur in BC. Nine BC species are Holarctic. The 4 temperate species, 3 in BC, feed on violets (Viola) but the northern species do not. There has been much confusion in the literature regarding larval foodplants, and we discuss only those verified by Shepard (1975) and later.


Albert's Fritillary has a very restricted flight period, from early July to early August, with peak flight in late July. Some populations occur only in even-numbered years and others only in odd-numbered years. Thus it takes two years for the species to complete one life cycle from adult to adult. Bean obtained eggs from females confined with Dryas octopetala and other plants; most eggs were laid on the Dryas (Edwards 1887-97). The eggs were laid 20 July and hatched on 30 July. The larvae did not feed. Shepard has also observed the species in association with Dryas, the larval foodplant of the closely related and allopatric species C. polaris. It is assumed that Dryas is also the foodplant of C. alberta, but it remains to be positively proven. Shepard could not get females to lay eggs on Dryas octopetala.


Albert's Fritillary is known only from extreme eastern BC along the AB border at and above timberline in the Rockies. Bird et al. (1995) and others who attribute this species to other areas in BC are in error.



Albert's Fritillary has the most restricted total world distribution of any butterfly that occurs in BC. It is known only from the Rocky Mountains from northern AB and BC south to Glacier National Park, MT. Wyatt described a subspecies of erda from the Tschukotka Mountains of northeastern Siberia as belonging to this species. Shepard has examined colour photographs of the types of C. alberta kurenzovi, and they proved to be a subspecies of C. erda, not C. alberta.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS3BlueNot Listed
BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.

Additional Photo Sources

General References

Recommended citation: Author, Date. Page title. In Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2021. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Accessed: 2024-07-17 10:36:37 PM]
Disclaimer: The information contained in an E-Fauna BC atlas pages is derived from expert sources as cited (with permission) in each section. This information is scientifically based.  E-Fauna BC also acts as a portal to other sites via deep links.  As always, users should refer to the original sources for complete information.  E-Fauna BC is not responsible for the accuracy or completeness of the original information.

© E-Fauna BC 2021: An initiative of the Spatial Data Lab, Department of Geography, UBC