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Regal Fritillary Speyeria idalia

Look for this large, colorful butterfly during summer in tallgrass prairies in western and northern Missouri. From late August to mid-September, females lay eggs, which hatch in 3 to 4 weeks. After hatching, the caterpilars bury themselves in leaf litter until spring, when they feed on violets. Butterflies are important food items for birds and other animals and serve as plant pollinators. Regal fritillaries once ranged from the Dakotas, east to Maine and Virginia, but are now absent from most areas east of the Mississippi river. Although we likely have fewer regal fritillaries in Missouri today than in the past because of the loss and fragmentation of prairies, the butterfly's numbers remain stable in the state. The Conservation Department helps this species by promoting prairie management.--Janet Sternbur

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