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Butterfly taxonomy (classification) The skippers The swallowtails The whites The hairstreaks, coppers and blues. Includes the Duke of Burgundy. The nymphalids, fritillaries and browns. Includes the Monarch.
Glanville Fritillary Male - Wrecclesham, Surrey (introduction site) 19-May-11
Wingspan
Male: 38 - 46mm
Female: 44 - 52mm
Photo © Vince Massimo
Glanville Fritillary

Melitaea cinxia
Number: 59.034
B&F No.: 1612
Family:Nymphalidae (Swainson, 1827)
Subfamily:Nymphalinae (Swainson, 1827)
Tribe:Melitaeini (Newman, 1870)
Genus:Melitaea (Fabricius, 1807)
Subgenus: 
Species:cinxia (Linnaeus, 1758)
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  Introduction  

The Glanville Fritillary is named after Lady Eleanor Glanville, a 17th century Lepidopterist who discovered this species in Lincolnshire. After her death, one of her sons contested her will on the grounds of lunacy, as eloquently described by Moses Harris in "The Aurelian" in 1766: "This Fly took its Name from the ingenious Lady Glanvil, whose Memory had like to have suffered for her Curiosity. Some Relations that was disappointed by her Will, attempted to let it aside by Acts of Lunacy, for they suggested that none but those who were deprived of their Senses, would go in Pursuit of Butterflies". This butterfly was formerly found in many colonies in south-east England as far north as Lincolnshire, although it is at the northern limit of its range in the British Isles. Today it is found mainly on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, with the occasional colony, typically short-lived, appearing on the South Hampshire coast. There is also an unauthorised introduction in North Somerset. This butterfly is also found on Guernsey and Alderney in the Channel Islands. This butterfly forms discrete colonies with little interchange between them. However, the odd stray will turn up several miles from any known colony.

Melitaea cinxia

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Sweden).


Glanville Fritillary - imago - Wrecclesham - 19-May-11 (2)
Male
Photo © Pete Eeles
Glanville Fritillary - imago - Hurst Castle - 19-May-08 (26)
Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C9760
Female
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville Fritillary Wrecclesham Surrey 14th June 2012
Female Underside
Photo © millerd

  Phenology  

Adults emerge in the second half of May, reaching a peak at the end of the month and at the start of June. There is typically one generation each year but in good years, when there has been a particularly-early emergence that starts as early as the end of April, there may be a partial second brood that emerges in August.


The chart(s) above have been correlated with the phenology plot below, taken from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The blue line gives average counts over the full data set from 1976 to date, and the red line gives the average for the last year.


  Habitat  

This species is primarily found in locations where regular disturbance of the ground allows the foodplant to grow and flourish, as is the case in coastal areas where there are frequent cliff falls. This allows the butterfly to move to new areas as the existing habitat becomes overgrown.

  Larval Foodplants  

The primary larval foodplant is Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata).

  Nectar Sources  

Adults feed primarily on Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Hawkweeds (Hieracium/Hypochoeris) and Thrift (Armeria spp.).

  Imago  

This is a sun-loving butterfly, being active only in bright sunshine. Like most fritillaries, it is difficult to follow as it flies with a series of rapid wing beats followed by a short glide. Both sexes are avid nectar feeders, Thrift and Bird's-foot Trefoil being particular favourites. The adults roost, often communally, on flower heads of various grasses.

The male is the most conspicuous of the two sexes, as it patrols the breeding grounds, investigating any brown object in the hope of finding a less-conspicuous virgin female in the vegetation. Even while mating the pair may remain active, flying between shrubs and even nectaring.

The female takes great care when choosing a site in which to lay her batch of eggs. Favoured sites are sheltered and warm, and where relatively-young foodplant grows vigorously with plenty of bare ground around.


Glanville Fritillaries - Hurst Castle, HANTS - May 2007
Photo © Trev Sawyer
Glanville Fritillary - imago - Hurst Castle - 19-May-08 (26)
Photo © Pete Eeles
19-May-2008
Glanville Fritillary - imago - Hurst Castle - 29-May-07 (19)
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-May-2007
Glanville Fritillary Male with Female - Wrecclesham, Surrey (introduction site) 19-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
19-May-2011
Glanville Fritillary Female - Wrecclesham, Surrey (introduction site) 19-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
19-May-2011
Glanville Fritillary Female - Wrecclesham, Surrey (introduction site) 19-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
19-May-2011
Glanville Fritillary - 4 June 2010
Photo © Clive
04-Jun-2010
Glanville Fritillary Male - Wrecclesham, Surrey (introduction site) 19-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
19-May-2011
Glanville Fritillary Female - Wrecclesham, Surrey (introduction site) 19-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
19-May-2011
Glanville Fritillary - Wrecclesham, Surrey (introduced) 20th May 2011
Photo © millerd
20-May-2011
Glanville Fritillary - imago - Wrecclesham - 19-May-11 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Glanville Fritillary - imago - Wrecclesham - 19-May-11 (2)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Glanville Fritillary - imago - Wrecclesham - 19-May-11 (4)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Glanville Fritillary - imago - Wrecclesham - 19-May-11 (5)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C0196
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C0233
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C0532
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C9160
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C9647
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C9760
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C9935
Photo © IainLeach
Glanville-Fritillary-Sand Point 14 May 2011 03C9966
Photo © IainLeach
DSC04373-800 Glanville Fritillary, Wheelers Bay, 1/05/2011
Photo © Pauline
01-May-2011
DSC04521-800 Glanville Fritillary, Wheelers Bay, 1/05/2011
Photo © Pauline
01-May-2011
P1050079-800 Mating Glanville Fritillaries, Wrecclesham 06/06/12
Photo © Pauline
06-Jun-2012
P1040930-800 Glanville Fritillary, Wrecclesham, 04/06/2012
Photo © Pauline
04-Jun-2012
Glanville Fritillary Wrecclesham Surrey 14th June 2012
Photo © millerd
14-Jun-2012
Mating pair of Glanville fritillaries at Wheelers Bay Ventnor IOW may 3 2014 by Ian Pratt LRPS
Photo © Ian Pratt
Mating pair Wheelers Bay Ventnor May 3 2014 by Ian Pratt
Mating pair of Glanville fritillaries at Wheelers Bay Ventnor IOW may 3 2014 by Ian Pratt LRPS
Photo © Ian Pratt
Glanville Fritillary (mating pair and interloper) 23.5.12 Wheelers Bay, Isle of Wight. Downland boy
Photo © downland boy
23-May-2012
Glanville Fritillary, Compton Bay, Isle of Wight - 090613
Photo © mud-puddling
Glanville Fritillary - Wrecclesham, Surrey 2010
Photo © Mike Young

  Aberrations  

Description to be completed.

Unclassified Aberrations


'Albino'Glanville Frit - Compton Bay IOW
Photo © Tony Moore
04-Jun-2007
Aberrant Glanville Fritillary - Wrecclesham, 9th June 2012
Photo © Wurzel
Closer view of Aberrant Glanville Fritillary - Wrecclesham, 9th June 2012
Photo © Wurzel
Aberrant Glanville Fritillary, underwing - Wrecclesham, 9th June 2012
Photo © Wurzel
Glanville Fritillary, Wheelers Bay,Isle of Wight.30-4-2014
Photo © marmari
30-Apr-2014

  Ovum  

The yellow eggs are laid in large and untidy batches of between 50 and 200 on the underside of a leaf of the foodplant. This stage lasts between 2 and 3 weeks.


Glanville Fritillary - ovum - Thatcham - 02-Jul-05 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
02-Jul-2005
Glanville Fritillary - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date [REARED] [Brian Clegg]
Photo © Brian Clegg

  Larva  

After hatching, the gregarious larvae spin a silk web over the foodplant in which they live and feed, and on which they bask. After the 4th moult, the larvae build a tent in which to hibernate, usually formed low down in vegetation. They emerge in the spring and only feed during periods of sun; in dull weather they remain motionless.

The larvae are unmistakable, their black bodies contrasting sharply with their dark red heads. They can also be extremely conspicuous when basking or feeding together - forming a black mass against their background. As for several other species, the larvae will instantly roll into a ball when disturbed, dropping deep into the undergrowth. Mature larvae leave the communal web and disperse to find fresh foodplant on which to feed. They are voracious feeders and a group can quickly decimate an entire plant. As a result, starvation of the larvae can be a real threat to this species. There are 6 moults in total.


Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 07-May-05 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
07-May-2006
Glanville Fritillary larvae. Hordle Cliff, Hants  Apr 1999
Photo © Mikhail
Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 11-May-04 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 15-Sep-05 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Sep-2005
Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 15-Sep-05 (4) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Sep-2005
Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 20-May-04 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
19-May-2004
Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 26-Apr-06 (4) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
26-Apr-2006
Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 26-Apr-06 (5) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
26-Apr-2006
Glanville Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 29-Mar-06 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Mar-2006

  Pupa  

The pupa is shiny and dark brown, with a series of orange spots running down its back. It is formed head down, attached by the cremaster, in a loose shelter formed deep in vegetation or in a rock crevice, where several pupa may be found together. This stage lasts around 3 weeks.


Glanville Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 05-Jun-04 (3) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Jun-2004
Glanville Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 29-Jun-04 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Jun-2004
Glanville Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 29-Jun-04 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Jun-2004
Glanville Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 30-May-05 [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
30-May-2005

  Similar Species  

Heath Fritillary

The Glanville Fritillary and Heath Fritillary are easily distinguished in the British Isles since the Glanville Fritillary is generally only found on the Isle of Wight, with a small colony on the mainland, where Heath Fritillary do not occur. Where these two species do occur together on the continent, they are most easily distinguished from their undersides. The Glanville Fritillary has several spots on the underside that are not present in the Heath Fritillary.


Glanville Fritillary (left) and Heath Fritillary (right)

The spotting is also a distinguishing feature when looking at the upperside, where the Glanville Fritillary has spots on the upperside of the hindwing that are absent in the Heath Fritillary.


Glanville Fritillary (left) and Heath Fritillary (right)
  Videos  

Video © John Chapple
Glanville Fritillary, Wheelers Bay. Isle of Wight
Video © Paul Wetton
Glanville Fritillary
Video © Sjaak van Beek
Glanville Fritillary, mating (and drinking), Melitaea cinxia

  Sites  

Click here to see the distribution of this species overlaid with specific site information. Alternatively, select one of the sites listed below.

Sites
Bonchurch Down, Compton Chine, Horseshoe Bay, Sand Point, Wheelers Bay, Whitecliff Bay

  Conservation Status  

The colonies found in the British Isles, where this species is at the limit of its northern range, are considered relatively-stable. However, this butterfly is vulnerable to improvements to its coastal habitats and so it is a species of conservation concern.

UK BAP StatusDistribution TrendPopulation Trend
Priority Species
Click here to access the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for this species.
IncreaseLarge Increase

From The State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland and the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).


  Links  

The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

  References  

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C.: Systema Naturae. Edn.10. 1758.

  Copyright © Peter Eeles 2002-2014
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