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Atlantis Fritillary
Speyeria atlantis (W.H. Edwards, 1862)

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Diagnosis: A medium-sized fritillary, overall generally darker than most other species. The upperside is a dark orange (lighter yellow or yellowish orange in the female), suffused with black at the base and with a solid black margin on the forewings and often on the hindwings as well. The ground colour on the hindwing underside is purplish brown; the pale submarginal band is narrow, with dark shading on the veins crossing the band. The spots are usually bright silver except in a few aberrant specimens. Wingspan: 50 to 64 mm.

Subspecies: Three poorly defined subspecies are recognized in Canada: the nominate subspecies (atlantis) is large, with a dark maroon-red disc on the underside; it occurs in southeastern Canada; subspecies canadensis is similar to subspecies atlantis but averages smaller in size; it occurs in northeastern Canada as far west as northern Manitoba; subspecies hollandi has a brownish-olive disk on the hindwing underside and is larger than subspecies canadensis except in northern British Columbia and Alberta; it occurs in Boreal Zone habitats from southern Manitoba westward and northward to central and northern British Columbia.

Range: The Atlantis Fritillary is found in Canada from the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland west through Labrador and Quebec north to Kuujjuarapik (Great Whale River) on the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. In Ontario it is found north to Hudson Bay (absent only in the extreme southwest) and from there across the Prairies to northern British Columbia.

Similar Species: The Aphrodite Fritillary is frequently confused with the Atlantis Fritillary, especially in eastern Canada, where the Aphrodite Fritillary is common. Speyeria aphrodite differs from atlantis in being lighter orange above with orange rather than solid black borders on the wings, and bright reddish orange rather than dark purplish brown on the hindwings beneath; see also Speyeria hesperis. [compare images]

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Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis atlantis), pupa. J-P. Laplante

Early Stages: The larvae are velvety black with grey or brown stripes and orange spines.

Abundance: This is the most numerous or often the only greater fritillary in the northern parts of its range. Farther south it becomes progressively more uncommon.

Flight Season: The Atlantis Fritillary flies from June into late August in much of its range, but is most common in July.

Habits: This fritillary regularly visits flowers. It is most common in boreal habitats, but in the Prairies and aspen parkland it becomes less common and highly localized.

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Atlantis Fritillary (Speyeria atlantis atlantis). Luskville, Que. P.W. Hall

Remarks: There has been a great deal of confusion in the classification of this species. Our treatment of Speyeria atlantis and its western relative Speyeria hesperis is largely based on Bird et al. (1995).

© 2002. This material is reproduced with permission from The Butterflies of Canada by Ross A. Layberry, Peter W. Hall, and J. Donald Lafontaine. University of Toronto Press; 1998. Specimen photos courtesy of John T. Fowler.

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