I always have a sense of excitement when I first see a silver-washed fritillary (Argynnis paphia). It is such a beautiful creature; a large butterfly with intricate markings and is an absolute joy to behold. It is essentially a butterfly of woodlands, especially areas of well established woodland, both deciduous and coniferous.
This is certainly a butterfly of the south and there are several sites in Dorset where it can still be found. It may not be as common as it once was perhaps, but where it does occur it can be quite numerous, especially at the peak of its flight time, July and in to August. It has just the one brood each year and the eggs are laid in the crevices of tree bark (notably oak) and that is where the larvae return to to hibernate before emerging as adult butterflies the following summer.
It often appears in a darker olive green form which can be mistaken for a different species. It is believed up to 15% of females have this colouring and it is known as the valezina form