Silver-washed fritillary

Silver-washed fritillary (male)
Silver-washed fritillary (male)

This large orange butterfly (“Argynnis paphia”) is the largest UK fritillary.  The silver occurs in streaks with pale green on the underside of the wings.

The male has the four distinctive black veins on the forewings that contain androconial scales. At the base of the androconia are tiny sacs containing scent ( pheromones ). The scent is disseminated via tiny hairs or plumes on the edges of the scales, and used to entice females to copulate.  The female is paler than the male, has rounder wings and her spots are more prominent without the black veins.

Adults are on the wing throughout the summer from late June to the end of August. They live in large broad-leaved woodlands (especially oak) and feed on flowers such as bramble in sunny glades and rides. The caterpillars feed on violets, particularly dog-violet.

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