Plants and Animals

Boloria freija Freija fritillary

Key Characteristics

Upper surfaces of adults are orange with black markings, basal areas are noticeably darker. On the hindwing below there is a duck head pattern formed by a combination of the dark cell with a black "eye", and the adjacent silver-white "bill". The "bill points to a small white crescent or patch. The hindwing has a marginal row of flat white spots that point inwardly and horizontal white lines near the forewing margins below. The black median forewing band is very connected and very angular. Caterpillar is a blackish brown with black spines.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: S3S4 - Rank is uncertain, ranging from vulnerable to apparently secure


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Baraga 2 1994
Chippewa 3 1999
Delta 1 1975
Dickinson 2 2010
Iron 5 2016
Marquette 1 2005
Ontonagon 1 1967

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


In Michigan, this species is associated with open, wet, sphagnum heath bogs with an abundance of leatherleaf and occasionally adjacent uplands in the Upper Peninsula. In other parts of the species' range, the species also is associated with muskegs and clearings in coniferous forests. In captivity, the larvae will feed on wild cranberry (Vaccinium sp.), other heaths (leatherleaf, bog rosemary, etc.) and violets. In the field, this species has been observed ovipositing on wild cranberry . The larval host plant for this species in the wild is dwarf birch.

Specific Habitat Needs

Host plant needed in: BogPatterned fen.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Threats to this species may include climate change as this is a boreal species; loss of habitat due to mining practices such as peat mining; decline in host plant populations (dwarf birch); and lack of scientific knowledge. The sites at which this species has been documented should be protected and maintained. Adequate and suitable habitat at these sites need to be maintained including sufficient densities of the species' host plant(s). Maintenance and long-term preservation of the extant sites and habitats with which this species may include maintaining and/or restoring hydrologic regimes, controlling invasive plants and controlling vegetative succession through promotion or replication of natural disturbance regimes and other ecological processes that drive the persistence and establishment of these natural communities. Additionally, surveys are needed to determine this species' status, abundance and distribution in the state. Research to obtain additional information on this species' life history and ecology and assess threats to this species also is warranted. Identification of larval host plant(s) for this species in Michigan is needed, and subsequent protection or restoration efforts should consider the status of the host plant(s).

Active Period

Flight from first week of May to second week of June

Survey Methods

The best way to survey for this species is by conducting visual meander surveys which consists of checking for this species near larval food plants, on adult nectar sources, and in mud puddles.

Visual, aerial net

Survey Period: From first week of May to second week of June

Time of Day: Daytime


Survey References

  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Martin, J.E.H. 1977. The Insects and Arachnids of Canada (Part 1): Collecting, preparing, and preserving insects, mites, and spiders. Publication 1643. Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa.

Technical References

  • Glassberg, J. 1999. Butterflies through Binoculars: The East. Oxford University Press, New York. 242pp.
  • Klots, A.B. 1951. Peterson Field Guides: Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 349pp.
  • Kriegel, R.D. and M.C. Nielsen. 2000. A survey of Boloria freija and B. frigga in northern Michigan sphagnum heath bogs. Unpublished report to the Michigan Nongame Wildlife Fund, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, Lansing, MI. 22 pp. + apps.
  • Nekola, J.C. 1998. Butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae, Nymphalidae and Satyridae) faunas of three peatland habitat types in the Lake Superior drainage basin of Wisconsin. Great Lakes Entomol. 31(1):27-38.
  • Nielsen, M.C. 1999. Michigan butterflies and skippers: A field guide and reference. Michigan State University Extension Bulletin E-2675, East Lansing. 248pp.
  • Stehr, F. W. 1997. Michigan Lepidoptera Survey Sites and Seasonal Occurrence of Michigan's Listed Species Annual Report 1997. 30 pp.+ MI Lepidoptera Survey Data Collection Form

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