USPS Issues Butterfly Postage Stamp

The great spangled fritillary butterfly gets its stamp of approval and takes flight on postage today from the United Sates Postal Service as a 70-cent stamp.

The stamp is primarily designed to be used on one-ounce greeting cards that are irregular in shape. 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 two ounces.

Tom Engeman of Frederick, MD created the stamp image under the direction of Derry Noyes of Washington, DC.

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. Even though this striking butterfly is a common sight in much of the country, it can be puzzling to identify. Not only are females slightly darker than males, but individuals in eastern populations are more orange in color, while those in western populations are browner.

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. Males 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 issuance in 2010, the Baltimore checkerspot in 2012, and the 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.

Customers have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local Post Offices, at The Postal Store at usps.com/shop, or by calling 800-STAMP-24. They should affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

Great Spangled Fritillary(Butterfly) Stamp
Cancellation Services
8300 NE Underground, Pillar 210
Kansas City, MO 64144-0001

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, the price is five cents each. All orders must be postmarked by April 13, 2014.

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic catalog, online at usps.com/shop or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014

There are seven philatelic products available for this stamp issue:

– 116606, Press Sheet w/Die Cuts, $140.00 (print quantity of 2,500).
– 116608, Press Sheet w/o Die Cuts, $140.00 (print quantity of 2,500).
– 116610, Keepsake (Pane & Digital Color Postmark Set), $15.95.
– 116616, First-Day Cover, $1.14.
– 116621, Digital Color Postmark, $1.85.
– 116631, Stamp Deck Card, $0.95.
– 116632, Stamp Deck Card w/Digital Color Postmark, $2.20.

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