The beautiful great spangled fritillary butterfly gets its stamp of approval and takes flight on postage from the nation's post offices as a 70-cent stamp.
Customers may purchase the stamps at post offices nationwide, at: usps.com/stamps, at (800) STAMP24 (782-6724) or at: ebay.com/stamps.
It is primarily designed to be used on 1-ounce greeting cards that are irregular in shape requiring the nonmachinable surcharge.
The great spangled fritillary butterfly stamp.
Participating greeting card manufacturers are printing silhouette images of a butterfly on their envelopes, making it easy for customers to understand the new butterfly stamp or equivalent postage is all that is needed to mail the card.
The stamp is also good for mailing First-Class letters and cards weighing up to 2 ounces.
Tom Engeman, of Frederick, Md., created the stamp image under the direction of Derry Noyes, of Washington, D.C.
The great spangled fritillary (Speyeria cybele) is named for the silvery spots found on the undersides of its wings.
A large butterfly with a wingspan of 2.25 to 4 inches, it is found in all northern states and ranges as far south as northern Georgia in the east and central California in the west. It is rarely found in the central United States.
Although their markings may vary, all great spangled fritillaries have one thing in common: a very close relationship with violets.
Females lay their eggs on or near clumps of violets in August or September. When the eggs hatch, the larvae crawl to nearby violet plants where they hide among fallen leaves and begin to hibernate.
When spring arrives, the caterpillars come out of hibernation and feed on fresh violet leaves before forming a chrysalis and transforming into adult butterflies.
Male great spangled fritillaries emerge slightly before females do, starting in early summer. After mating in June or July, the males die.
The females have long lives for butterflies, often surviving into October, when their frayed wings show their age.
Strong and fast flyers, adult great spangled fritillaries visit a wide range of flowers to feed on nectar. They are most often spotted in open habitat such as meadows, pastures, and prairies.
The Postal Service began the line of First-Class Surcharge rate stamps featuring butterflies with the Monarch in 2010, Baltimore Checkerspot followed in 2012 and Spicebush Swallowtail in 2013.
Customers may view the great spangled fritillary butterfly stamps, as well as many of this year's other stamps, on Facebook at: facebook.com/USPSStamps, on: Twitter@USPSstamps or at: USPSstamps.com.
Kathleen Swanson is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.