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

Boloria epithore Reuss, 1920
Lesser Fritillaries; Western Meadow Fritillary
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 #8699)

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

Species Information


The Western Meadow Fritillary is closest in appearance to the Meadow Fritillary but lacks the blunt forewing apex of the latter.

Immature Stages

Edwards (1892) gave the only published account of the early stages. This paper has been overlooked by all subsequent workers, including Shepard (1975). The fourth instar larva is grey with a dark dorsal line and lower lateral lines, and the area between cross-marked with black; the basal stripe is red. The spines are russet, except those on the second and third thoracic segments and last abdominal segment, which are black. Edwards noted that this species is quite different from C. bellona. Mr. Koeble supplied eggs from Spokane, WA.


The southern and central BC populations are the subspecies C.e. chermocki E. & S. Perkins, 1966 (TL: 2.9 mi. E Dolph, Yamhill Co., OR) (= borealis E. Perkins, 1973; = uslui Ko├žak, 1984), which ranges from northern coastal California north to New Aiyansh, BC (Shepard and Shepard 1974) and from southeastern BC to northwestern WY (Yellowstone). The populations in the Coast Ranges from Mt. Klapan north and the adjacent Alaska panhandle and Yukon are the new subspecies C.e. sigridae (described below). The type locality of the name borealis is in the Cascade Mountains of BC and was erroneously applied to all C. epithore populations from northern and eastern BC and southeast to central Idaho by E. Perkins. These interior populations in the southeast of BC are not separable from southwestern BC populations. Even if they were, the type locality of borealis is within the expected range of a western/Cascade subspecies, not a Rocky Mountain subspecies.

Clossiana epithore sigridae Shepard, new subspecies. In both males and females the spot between vein M1 and vein M2 in the postmedian row on the dorsal hindwings is elongate, not rounded as in other subspecies, and is pointed towards the base of the wing. The adjacent postmedian spot above vein M1 is usually also elongated. These elongated spots are not found on specimens of the other C. epithore subspecies unless the specimen is clearly an aberrant one. The basal portion of the ventral hindwings, inside the median band of dull yellow connected spots, is a uniform dark reddish brown. By contrast, in subspecies chermocki, this basal area is heavily overlaid by yellow scales to the point that the median row of yellow spots does not stand out. Males of subspecies sigridae (n = 23) have an average wing length of 18.2 mm, females (n = 12) 20.0 mm. This is significantly smaller than in even the closest populations (New Aiyansh) of subspecies chermocki, where males (n = 5) average 20.0 mm and females (n = 2) average 21.5 mm. Types. Holotype: male, BC, St. Elias Mts., Tats Lake, 770 m, 22 July 1992, leg. C.S. Guppy. A label "Holotype / Clossiana epithore / sigridae Shepard" is attached. The holotype is deposited in the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC, CAN. Paratypes: 20 males, 8 females, same data (RBCM); 1 male, 1 female, same data (JHS); 1 male, 3 females, BC, Mt. Klapan Rd., km. 109, el. 1,400 m, 11 July 1989, leg. J. and S. Shepard (JHS).

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 Western Meadow Fritillary flies from early May to early September, depending on elevation and latitude, but with only one generation per year and only for about three weeks for anyone population. Where it is sympatric with either C. selene or C. bellona, the peak flight is between the two broods of the sympatric species. This occurs at about 1,000 m in the Southern Interior and the West Kootenay. Eggs hatch in early July and grow to fourth instar larvae by mid-August before overwintering (Edwards 1892; JHS). Shepard (1975) has reared the Western Meadow Fritillary on various Viola species in BC and California, but the species is not associated with Viola canadensis, the violet usually associated with C. bellona (JHS) in BC and Alberta.


The Western Meadow Fritillary occurs in the Coast Ranges in northern BC and across southern BC except the Chilcotin. On the coast, the species occurs in coniferous forest meadows from almost sea level to subalpine meadows. In the south Cariboo, Southern Interior, and Kootenays, it occurs from 1,000 to 2,170 m in mountain meadows. This species and the Silver-bordered Fritillary often fly together at 1,000 m, the Western Meadow Fritillary along the stream banks and the Silver-bordered Fritillary in adjacent boggy areas. Above 1,000 m, the skipper Carterocephalus palaemon is usually associated with the Western Meadow Fritillary, but not the other skippers found in the same habitat as the Silver-bordered Fritillary. The Western Meadow Fritillary is never found in close association with the Meadow Fritillary, which is found in drier aspen woodlands.



The Western Meadow Fritillary is found from extreme southwestern YT south through BC to central CA in the coast ranges and the Sierras, and south to northwestern WY.

Status Information

Scientific NameOrigin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
Boloria epithoreNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Boloria epithore chermockiNativeS5YellowNot Listed
Boloria epithore sigridaeNativeS2S4BlueNot 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: 2022-06-26 1:08:54 PM]
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