Frititllary butterflies are one the most common butterflies in spring in Kansas. These showy fliers can be seen flitting among the early summer wildflowers on the prairie and in home landscapes. They are fond of milkweeds and thistles as nectar sources, along with many other native and introduced flowers. Here are the types seen in Kansas.
The Gulf fritillary is an immigrant to Kansas, being common in the south where its food source, passion flower vine, is more common. Strays up here may have been raised from eggs by hobbyists or are here to eat the annual passion flower vines sometimes grown on trellises in landscapes. They are very bright and colorful.
The Variegated fritillary is more common in our area and overwinters as an adult in leaf litter and debris. The caterpillars feed on violets, pansies, and stonecrop. They can also be found getting nourishment from dung.
The Great Spangled fritillary is another common sight in Kansas. It overwinters as a caterpillar and comes out in the spring to feed on violets.
The Regal fritillary is a very pretty sight in Kansas when seen against the striking color of liatris (blazingstar). The caterpillars overwinter and come out in spring to feed on violets.
If you are planting butterfly garden, plant lots of milkweeds, liatris, echinacea, and sunflowers to provide nectar for adult butterflies. And leave a few violets for the fritillaries.