E-Fauna BC Home

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.
Introduction to the Butterflies of BC
The Families of Lepidoptera of BC


© Norbert Kondla     (Photo ID #8577)


Click on map to view a larger version of this map.
Distribution of Boloria polaris in British Columbia.
(Click on the map to view a larger version.)
Source: Butterflies of British Columbia by Crispin Guppy and Jon Shepard © Royal BC Museum

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.

General References