A Pair of Great Spangled Fritillary Butterflies on One Leaf

Great spangled fritillary Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

This image evokes a flood of possibilities. June 25th at Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

Our 2 Great Spangled Fritillaries left their nighttime wooded perches and here we find them at 8:55 in the morning, luxuriating with the morning sun’s understanding rays.

It is safest for them to fly about when the outside temperature is above 60 degrees Farenheit. They must evade predators, and that necessitates the ability to perform their swift, acrobatic aerial hijinks. How to do that? Leave the trees, find a suitably warm leaf and luxuriate in the morning sun. I have seen butterflies do so thousands of times. 5 minutes to 20 minutes of sun bathing is enough for the species that do this. Then, zoom! they’re off!

Now back to our 2 female Speyeria cybele. I have never seen this before. Have they flown there together? Does their safety improve because they share this milkweed leaf? Are they aware of one another? Are they communicating? Did one see the other at the leaf and fly down? Most interestingly, has our knowledge of butterfly behavior advanced to confront these questions?

I respectfully ask our most thoughtful friends to weigh-in here and share their responses. NABA, Xerces, academics, authors?