Boloria selene, Silver-bordered Fritillary

The adult butterfly ranges in size – from 1 3/8 – 2 7/8 inches across according to the US Forest service. It is orange with randomly dispersed black marks. Discerning one fritillary from another is not for the faint of heart as the distinctions between them can be quite subtle. Comparing images of them side-by-side is a good idea.

This butterfly can be “found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere”, especially in areas that provide the following conditions:

“Habitat Associations: Boloria selene can be found in bogs, open riparian areas, and in marshes containing a large amount of Salix and larval food plants (Warren 2005). Sunny wet habitats encourage adult flight.”

The adult has been observed feeding on:

1. Cephalanthus
2. Lythrum 
3. Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan)
4. Rudbeckia
5. Solidago
6. Trifolium
7. Rosaceae (probably Prunus)
8. Eupatorium

Most of these genera contain native plants that will grow in the Silver-bordered Fritillary’s range. Lythrum is native or naturalized in every state in the union except Alaska. Rudbeckia is native in the lower 48, introduced in Alaska, and not found in Hawaii. Cephalanthus is native in a huge swath of eastern states (east of Texas) and in Arizona and California. Solidago is native in every state (introduced in Hawaii). Eupatorium appeals to the Silver-bordered Fritillary as well – a native/naturalized plant in Canada and every state east of the Texas/North Dakota longitude.

It feeds on Trifolium – a conclusion based on an observation of a beautiful butterfly photo that was simultaneously a lousy plant photo with tiny bits of the blossom showing and blurred images of rounded leaves. For sure it feeds on Trifolium pratense (magenta blossoms) and very likely the white flowering Trifolium repens. It also feeds on unknown species in the Rosaceae family – as it was observed feeding on a blossom resembling Prunus. Prunus is a tree or shrub common throughout continental US and Alaska.

To find out more about this butterfly – and it’s need for a marshy habitat – go to this informative Forest Service fact sheet quoted throughout this entry:

“This species of butterfly can be found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, south in the Appalachians, Midwest, Rockies, and Cascades. It is also not uncommon to find them in S.E. British Columbia. Boloria selene is known possibly from twenty sites in Washington in the Pend Oreille, Okanogan, Columbia and Yakima drainages (Pyle 2002). In Oregon, these butterflies have been found in Big Summit Prairie, Crook Co. the Strawberry Mountains, Grant Co., and in the Southern Wallow Range north of Halfway, and Baker Co. (Christensen 1981; Pyle 2002; Warren 2005). Occurrences of these butterflies have been documented in the Prineville District BLM and in the Malheur and Wallowa Whitman National forests.

Threats: Habitat succession and drying have put many populations under stress (Pyle 2002).

Conservation Considerations: Habitats known to contain these butterflies should be managed to maintain hydrology, and the continued existence of violets by monitoring willow succession (Scheuering 2006). Vegetation treatments to reduce conifer encroachment may be needed at some sites. The use of pesticides which may negatively impact this butterfly or the northern bog violet should be avoided. Additional efforts to locate sites occupied by B. selene may also be helpful (Larsen et al. 1995). Conservation Status: Boloria selene is globally ranked G5 -- widespread, abundant and secure throughout its range (Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center 2007). In Oregon this species of butterfly is ranked S2 -- imperiled. Populations have recently been put under stress due to habitat drying and succession."

The creative commons photo shown here was taken by Aleksey Gnilenkov.

Butterfly boloria selene %28linnaeus  1758%29 cc by aleksey gnilenkov