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

Boloria polaris Reuss, 1920
Lesser Fritillaries; Polar 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 #8577)

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

Species Information


The Polar Fritillary is easy to identify. The postmedian row of spots on the ventral hindwings is in a regular row. The spots are black in the centre and surrounded by a wide white area.

Immature Stages



BC populations of the Polar Fritillary are the nominate subspecies, C.p. polaris (BoisduvaI, [1828]) (TL: Cape Nord, Norway).

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 Polar Fritillary flies from mid-June to late July, with one generation per year. In some parts of the species' range, including BC, it flies only in odd-numbered years, meaning that it takes two years to complete one generation. Larvae collected on Dryas species in the Canadian Arctic (CNC) suggest that this is the foodplant. Other Clossiana larvae collected at the same localities in the far north on Salix must have been C. chariclea, as Salix is its known foodplant. No other species of Clossiana were collected at these localities as adults.


The Polar Fritillary is found only in the highest and driest mountains of northern BC where the foodplant is common.



The Polar Fritillary is found from AK east through YT, NT, and Labrador, with outlying southern populations at the northern edge of most provinces. The Polar Fritillary and the Arctic Fritillary are found further north than any other butterfly in the Canadian archipelago. The Polar Fritillary is Holarctic, occurring in northern Norway and across extreme northern Russia to eastern Siberia.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS4YellowNot 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: 2024-07-23 1:17:30 AM]
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