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Silver-washed Fritillary

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

A large butterfly with intricate markings. Essentially a butterfly of woodlands, especially areas of well established woodland, both deciduous and coniferous.


  • Silver-washed Fritillary: barking up the right tree

    Post date: Wednesday, 12 August, 2015 - 00:00

    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 


  • Silver-washed Fritillary in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

    Post date: Wednesday, 8 May, 2019 - 21:32

    When seen in a woodland setting the silver-washed fritillary is unmistakable as it is a large, bright orange butterfly that cannot really be confused with any other species found in this habitat. This is true in Dorset I believe as the pearl-bordered fritillary is no longer found in Dorset woodlands having faded out here some years ago. The pearl-bordered may have been subject to a sad demise but thankfully the silver-washed is doing alright and is certainly holding its own for the time being at least. It should be born in mind that there is a darker form of silver-washed, the valezina form, which can be encountered and at first sight looks a totally different species! 

    The thirty eight reports of silver-washed fritillary in the Nature of Dorset database for 2017 and 2018 combined show that the first of these butterflies can be seen in week 25 in mid-June and then they are reported every week for seven weeks until week 31 in early August; they seem to be at their peak in early July. This flight period ties in with textbook information which validates the records we have here from Dorset so far.

    There are records from thirty nine sites and they are all predominantly, or at least partially, broadleaf woodland where these butterflies feed in sunny glades on the flowers of bramble.


Common Name Silver-washed Fritillary
Scientific Name Argynnis paphia
Species Group Nymphalid Butterflies Admirals and Fritillaries
Interest Level
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Identification Notes
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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