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

Boloria chariclea butleri Reuss, 1920
Arctic 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 #5439)

E-Fauna BC Static Map
Distribution of Boloria chariclea butleri in British Columbia
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Species Information


The adults of the Arctic Fritillary are the most variable of any Clossiana. After other species are eliminated, and with reference to the photos, this species can be determined with confidence. It is most often confused with the Freija Fritillary but lacks the large median triangular spot on the ventral hindwings.lt is the fourth of the four boreal species to emerge, and flies from late July onward. Only a very occasional late-emerging female Freija Fritillary would be flying at the same time in the same habitat. In most of the historical North American literature, this species is treated as two species, C. chariclea and C. titania. Shepard (1998), however, showed that all North American forms are C. chariclea and that C. titania is a species restricted to the Palearctic.

Immature Stages



The populations from southwestern BC are the Tacoma Fritillary, C.c. rainieri (Barnes & McDunnough, 1913) (TL: Mt. Rainier, WA). The populations from central BC and northeastern BC are the boreal subspecies, C.c. grandis (Barnes & McDunnough, 1916) (TL: Hymers, ON). The populations from northwestern BC are best ascribed to C.c. butleri (W.H. Edwards, 1883) (TL: Cape Thompson, AK). These northwestern BC populations are intermediate between butleri and grandis, however.

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.


The Arctic Fritillary flies in one brood from late July to early September. The eggs hatch shortly after being laid, but the larvae do not feed and instead go into hibernation (Shepard 1975). Pelham (Shepard 1975) found last instar larvae on Polygonum bistortoides in the Olympic Mountains of Washington. Larvae in the Canadian National Collection collected in the far north were found on Salix species, which is the presumed larvaI foodplant in most of the North American distribution of the species.


The Arctic Fritillary is found throughout BC east of the Coast Mountains. In southwestern BC the species occurs west of the Cascade and Coast mountains to near Whistler, from above 1,500 m to above timberline. The central and northeastern BC populations occur at moderate elevations in the same habitat as C. freija, C. frigga, and C. eunomia. These four species occur together across boreal North America and in the Palearctic.



The Arctic Fritillary ranges from AK across a II of CAN except some of the western Canadian archipelago and the southern prairies. It occurs south to the WA Cascades and northern NM in the west, and MN and NH in the east. The species is Holarctic, occurring from northern Scandinavia across northern Russia to eastern Siberia and Kamchatka.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS5YellowNot 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: 2024-07-15 8:41:41 PM]
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