Caterpillars that grow and develop in the Spring in Indiana begin to emerge as adults in late Spring or early Summer. One visitor to the milkweeds and other flowers in my garden yesterday was a Great Spangled Fritillary. Speyeria cybele, is one of the larger Fritillary butterflies, and similar in size to the Monarch. The Fritillary was interacting with a male Monarch butterfly, who briefly engaged in a circling flight. After the Monarch flew off to resume its patrol, the Fritillary landed on a milkweed flower to consume nectar.
The caterpillar of the Great Spangled Fritillary feeds on plants in the violet family. Eggs are laid in the Fall and larvae will go into a quiescent overwintering stage called, diapause. In the Spring when the violets are growing, the caterpillar will feed. The caterpillars are covered with spines (presumably for protection) and feed only at night. During the day, they are concealed in the leaf litter out of sight of potential predators. The adults may live for several months. A large female can lay 2000 eggs.