Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)
Male. Taken at Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon., on July 7th 2014.
(1/800th sec at f13. Approx 2x lifesize)
Male underside. Taken at Bernwood Forest, Bucks on July 3rd 2015.
(1/60th sec at f13. Approx 2x lifesize)
Female. Taken at Homefield Wood, Bucks on July 24th 2013.
(1/125th sec at f13. Approx 2x lifesize)
Female underside. Taken at Bentley Wood, Wilts, on July 22nd 2012.
(1/400th sec at f14. Approx 2x lifesize)
Female of f. valezina. Taken nr Bansko, Bulgaria on July 26th 2015.
(1/640th sec at f14. Approx 2x lifesize)
© David Hastings
DescriptionWing span: 60-62 mm
This butterfly is the largest British fritillary and gets its name from the streaks of silver found on the underside of the wings. The male has four distinctive sex brands on its forewings that are used in courtship. The female is paler than the male, has rounder wings, fewer linear markings and more prominent spots. There is a variation called f. valezina, which has a silvery green ground colour to the upper surfaces. This only occurs in females.
The Silver-washed Fritillary is found in Ireland, Wales and in England south-west of a line drawn between Merseyside and the Thames Estuary. It is absent from Scotland.
It is found in woodland where the larval foodplant, Common Dog-violet, grows. It can also be found flying along lanes and open countryside in some areas. Both deciduous and coniferous woodland is used; the presence of this butterfly is only limited by the presence of nectar sources and larval foodplant.
The flight period is from late June to the end of August, with a peak in mid-July. The larva is the over-wintering stage.
The larval foodplant is the Common Dog-violet. Adults frequently feed on aphid honeydew in the tree-tops. However, they often descend to nectar on Bramble blossom and Thistle flowers.
The bright orange male is quite distinctive as it flies powerfully along woodland rides, pausing only briefly to feed or investigate anything with an orange hue that could be a potential mate.
This species is listed as Least Concern in the latest Red List of British Butterflies (PDF).