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Dark Green Fritillary

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

A large orange and brown butterfly of open grassland and downs. The underside of the wing is partly dark green.



  • Dark-green Fritillary: flap flap glide

    Post date: Wednesday, 5 August, 2015 - 00:00

    Three things stand out for me with the dark-green fritillary (Argynnis aglaia) which can help with identification as fritillaries can be quite difficult to tell apart unless you get a good view of them.

    Firstly, the dark-green fritillary is very much a butterfly of open chalk grassland and downs where there are good quantities of flowering plants to nectar on whereas the other fritillaries would not be seen in such surroundings. Secondly, the dark-green fritillary has a very strong, direct flight and has intermittent glides between wing beats. I am not sure any other species of butterfly actually does this. Finally, it is not dark green! Well, not at first sight at least. This is a wonderful large, orange and brown species but, if you see it at rest on a flower you will see the underside of the wing is, indeed, partly dark green.

    You can see these stunningly beautiful butterflies in suitable habitat in July and August but be prepared, the males can wander far and wide looking for a mate and so they could actually turn up almost anywhere!


  • Dark Green Fritillary in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

    Post date: Tuesday, 7 May, 2019 - 21:11

    The dark green fritillary is not green, it is orange and brown like many of the other fritillary butterflies. The name is not a total falsehood though as if you look closely at one whilst nectaring with its wings closed you will see the underside of the wing is partially green; whether that is dark green is open to debate! In flight it may seem, at first, difficult to tell the dark green fritillary from the superficially similar silver-washed fritillary. However there two fundamental differences with nothing to do with colouration that will help point you in the right direction. Firstly, the dark green is a butterfly that is rarely seen away from flower-rich chalk or limestone grassland whereas the silver-washed is much more of a woodland species. Secondly, the dark green is a powerful; flyer and flies with a flap. flap. glide, flap, flap, glide ... I do not think I have ever seen that in any other butterfly.

    Sadly, there are only eleven reports of dark green fritillary in the Nature of Dorset database for 2017 and 2018 combined which is not a lot to work with however it does show that the this species emerges around week 22 in mid June and can be seen until week week 30, possibly on to week 32, in mid of August, that seem to tie in with what the textbooks indicate.

    There are records from thirteen sites in Dorset and every one is fundamentally calcareous grassland; various points along the Purbeck coast seems to be the best places to see them but they are not particularly common anywhere. I find it surpring that there are no reports from Portland as yet.


Common Name Dark Green Fritillary
Scientific Name Argynnis aglaia
Species Group Nymphalid Butterflies Admirals and Fritillaries
Interest Level
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Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
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Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Nymphalid Butterflies Admirals and Fritillaries