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The Purple Lesser Fritillary Butterfly


The Purple Lesser Fritillary is one of many rare species featured in our Unique Areas Brochure. This butterfly, native to northern regions, gathers in the forests of Northern Maine in an area in which J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) conserves as a part of our Unique Areas Program.

The sparse, windy area of Northern Maine mimics the climate of the north, providing the perfect growing conditions for the plant on which the Fritillary lays its eggs – the Dwarf Willow. As one of the world’s smallest woody plants, the Dwarf Willow grows only 1-6 centimetres above the ground. The Purple Lesser Fritillary larvae feed on the Willow while adults lay their eggs on the backside of the leaves. 

  Purple Lesser
 The Purple Lesser Fritillary Butterfly is characterized by the purple checkerboard pattern of its wings.(Dave Hanson)

As a state-threatened species, conserving the Purple Lesser Fritillary and its habitat is especially important to JDI.  This sighting is the only known modern occurrence of the species in Maine. 

Our Unique Areas program conserves a number of species and habitats, including:

• Birds & Mammals 
• Fish 
• Lakes & Wetlands 
• Unique Forest Stands 
• Old Growth & Conservation Forests 
• Plants 
• Historic Sites 
• Geological & Fossil Sites 
• Reptiles & Invertebrates 
• Late Successional Forests

Together, these sites make up 195,471 acres of preserved landscape. To learn more about the Purple Lesser Fritillary and other habitats and species that encompass our Unique Areas Program, check out our new brochure.