On Jun 29, 2009, tabasco from Cincinnati (Anderson Twp), OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
The Great Spangled Fritillary visits our garden throughout the summer but the last week in June and the first weeks in July are the highpoints in the GSF population here. After those few weeks occurrences become more rare.
The GSF is not shy about nectaring in the garden~~it's one of the first butterflies to find our stand of monarda and often socializes there in small groups. They also flit in pairs among the coneflowers and swamp milkweeds as those flowers come into bloom.
They are a rather large butterfly and can be distinguished from other fritillaries by its size. Especially the female, which emerges later in the summer than the male and can be quite a bit bigger.
"Common Butterflies & Skippers of Ohio" (Ohio DNR, p. 33) notes that the GSF has a somewhat haphard reproduction habit: the female lays her eggs near but not on their host plants, violets, and the tiny caterpillars must find their way to them to feed. To complicate the feeding process, the GSF only feed at night.