Watch Your Flowers for a Diana Fritillary Butterfly

Updated: Sep. 20, 2023

Identify the uncommon Diana fritillary butterfly. See what the male and female butterflies look like and which host plants will attract them.

How to Identify a Diana Fritillary Butterfly

diana fritillaryCourtesy Mandy Dime

“A butterfly that I’ve never seen before landed on my purple coneflowers. What is it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Mandy Dime of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman: This is a visitor that’s guaranteed to be the envy of all avid butterfly watchers. The Diana fritillary is a very uncommon species that flies in summer in a limited range in the southern Appalachians and in the Ozarks. This black and orange individual is a male.

Meet the gorgeous great spangled fritillary butterfly.

278025778 1 Susan Stamey Bnb Bypc 2021Courtesy Susan Stamey
A blue colored female looks very different than the male.

The female butterfly has a similar wing pattern but the orange color is replaced by blue and white. As with other species of large fritillaries, their caterpillars feed on the leaves of violets.

Attract gulf fritillary butterflies with their favorite plants.

Diana Fritillary Pictures

252840690 1 Susan Y Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Susan Y

“This is a special shot because it was my first time to see the Arkansas state butterfly, which is rare to see near my home in Faulkner County,” says reader Susan Y.

Learn how to attract and identify a queen butterfly.

309462375 1 Kathryn Herndon Bnb Pc 2022Courtesy Kathryn Herndon

“While visiting the Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina this August, I was awed by the beautiful wildflowers and butterflies. This male Diana fritillary especially caught my eye. It was the first time I had every seen one. I had to do a little research to identify it. I was surprised to discover its coloration is totally different from the female. It does not resemble other species of butterflies,” says Kathryn Herndon.

See 3 butterflies that look like monarchs.

251155582 1 Darin Swinney Bnb Bypc2020Courtesy Darin Swinney

“On a warm and humid early July morning, I saw this male Diana fritillary, the Arkansas state butterfly, sipping nectar from a wild purple coneflower,” says Darin Swinney.

Next, discover 7 small butterflies you should never overlook.