Watch Your Flowers for a Diana Fritillary Butterfly

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.

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.