The wingspan of this species is from two and three-fourths to four and one-fourth inches. The upperside of the forewing is red-orange with black markings, and the upperside of the female’s forewing has white spots along the black edge. The upper surface of the hindwing is a darker color than that of the forewing and has two rows of spots. These spots are all an ivory shade in the female. In the male, the inner row of spots is ivory while the spots in the outer row are orange. The underside of the forewings is orange with dark markings and also has a row of white spots in the black border along the edge of the wing. The hindwing is covered with many white bars and spots.
The regal fritillary is a threatened species in Illinois. It lives in sand prairies, tallgrass prairies, savannas, dunes and other wet areas associated with sand. The larvae eats violet leaves (Viola spp.). Adults obtain nectar from a variety of flowers. They are active from May through September. One generation is produced per year. The species overwinters in the larval stage.