Silver-washed Fritillary Nymphalidae

Argynnis paphia (Linnaeus, 1758)

Description: Wingspan 69-80mm. Males are smaller than females. This is the largest resident butterfly in N. Ireland. The male has bright orange uppersides marked with black along the veins and with many round and triangular spots. The female is similar but is less brightly coloured and with more extensive black markings. The underside of the hindwing in both sexes is a light iridescent silvery-green with 3 silver lines and faint green spots. The side margin of the forewings is slightly concave.

Similar Species: The Dark Green Fritillary is smaller and has silver spots rather than patches on the underside of the hindwing and has a slightly convex margin to the forewing.

Key Identification Features:

Sets:  male upperside male underside

Flight Period: July to early September

Status: Locally common in favoured habitats. Colonies exist throughout N. Ireland, but it appears commonest in Fermanagh and Armagh and also around Newcastle and Rostrevor in Down and Glenarm in Antrim.

Ecology: A colonial species but males do wander. Colonies exist in open broad-leaved woodland and along large hedgerows. Males fly on zigzag paths through habitat searching for females. Females fly slowly through woods searching for clumps of their foodplant; woodland violets Viola spp. especially V. odorata, V. riviniana, and V. reichenbachiana. When located female lays eggs singly in crevices on tree trunk near foodplant. The first instar caterpillar overwinters, hibernating on the tree trunk.

World Distribution: Range: whole of Europe except southern Iberia and northern and central Scandinavia, across Asia to far eastern Russia; Algeria and Asia Minor.

Bradley & Fletcher number: 1608 Agassiz number: 59.017

Additional information:

UK Butterflies account


 Thompson, R. S. & Nelson, B., 2003 (Oct 2). [In] The Butterflies and Moths of Northern Ireland