Queen of Spain Fritillary

Issoria lathonia (iss-OR-ee-uh la-THOH-nee-uh)

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Rhodopi, Bulgaria - 07-Jul-07 (1057)
Photo © Pete Eeles
 

Wingspan
Male: 34 - 52mm
Female: 50 - 56mm

Checklist Number
59.016

Family:NymphalidaeRafinesque, 1815
Subfamily:HeliconiinaeSwainson, 1827
Tribe:ArgynniniSwainson, 1833
Genus:IssoriaHübner, [1819]
Subgenus:IssoriaHübner, [1819]
Species:lathonia(Linnaeus, 1758)

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Introduction

This butterfly is an extremely rare immigrant to the British Isles with the first record from Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire in 1710. It was first noticed in numbers in 1818 and was seen every year until 1885 - with the highest total of 50 records in 1872. Since then, sightings are few and far between with an additional 42 records up until 1939. Between 1943 and 1950 an additional 75 records were added and, since then, there has again been a dearth of sightings with no sightings at all in some years. In 2009 several individuals were seen near the Sussex coast, including a sighting of a mating pair. Even so, there have been less than 400 sightings in total since it was first discovered.

Although females have been seen egg-laying, neither larvae nor pupae have been found in the wild except in the Channel Islands, where larvae were found in 1950, and larvae were again found in 1951 and 1957. However, in 1945, 25 individuals were recorded at Portreath in Cornwall, suggesting that a migrant female had deposited her eggs in the vicinity and that this concentration of adults were her offspring. Unfortunately, this species is unable to survive our winter. The vernacular name of "Queen of Spain" was given in 1775 by Moses Harris in The Aurelian's Pocket Companion, although no explanation for this name was given. This species is a rare migrant to the British Isles. The vast majority of sightings are from the south coast of England, with a fairly even spread from Cornwall to Kent. There are fewer records further north and several records from southern Ireland. It is believed that the presence of this species on our shores is dependent on individuals originating in northern France. Unfortunately, the number seen there is also decreasing due to loss of suitable habitat and this undoubtedly has a knock-on effect.

Issoria lathonia

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

Queen of Spain Fritillary Male - Brandy Hole Copse, Chichester, Sussex 13-Oct-09

Male
Photo © Vince Massimo

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Little Hortobagy, Hungary - 13-Jul-06 (0566)

Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Queen of Spain Fritillary Female - Dunwich Forest, Suffolk 3-July-11

Female
Photo © Julian

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Rhodopi, Bulgaria - 07-Jul-07 (1056)

Female Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album ...


History

The table below shows a chronology of vernacular names attributed to this species. Any qualification of the name (e.g. male, female) is shown in brackets after the name.

YearNameReference
1702Riga FritillaryPetiver (1702-1706)
1710Lesser Silver-spottedRay (1710)
1775Queen of Spain FritillaryHarris (1775b)
1795Scalloped-winged FritillaryLewin (1795)
1832PrincessRennie (1832)

Conservation Status

No conservation action is relevant for this species.

Habitat

The migrant tendencies of this butterfly mean that it can turn up almost anywhere. However, it is most-frequently encountered in patches of grassland or heathland where it nectars on a variety of flowers, Thistles being a particular favourite. In northern Europe, sites are typically hot and dry.

Distribution

1.2 Rare Migrant
 

This species is a rare migrant to the British Isles.

Life Cycle

Although sightings have been made as early as May, the vast majority are in September and early October.

Imago

This species is most-easily recognised by the large silver spangles found on the underside of the hindwings. The hindwings themselves are a curious shape, with a comparatively sharp angle at the edge of the hindwing that is not found in other fritillaries found in the British Isles. This butterfly has a powerful flight, as one would expect of any butterfly that is able to migrate over large distances.

Description to be completed.

Issoria lathonia

Queen of Spain Fritillary - male - Farm Lator, Hungary - 06-Jul-12

Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jul-2012

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Sarnano, Italy - 17-Jun-08 (2)

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Jun-2008

Queen of Spain Fritillary Female - Dunwich Forest, Suffolk 3-July-11

Photo © Julian
Dunwich Forest, Suffolk

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Rhodopi, Bulgaria - 07-Jul-07 (1055)

Photo © Pete Eeles
07-Jul-2007

Queen of Spain Fritillary Female - Dunwich Forest, Suffolk 3-July-11

Photo © Julian
Dunwich Forest, Suffolk.

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Little Hortobagy, Hungary - 13-Jul-06 (0566)

Photo © Pete Eeles
13-Jul-2006

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Mount Kerkini, Greece -09-Jun-09 (2)

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Jun-2009

Queen of Spain Fritillary - Czech Republic - 11-08-2015

Photo © Wurzel

Queen of Spain Fritillary - male - Répáshuta, Hungary - 02-Jul-12

Photo © Pete Eeles
02-Jul-2012

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Rhodopi, Bulgaria - 07-Jul-07 (1056)

Photo © Pete Eeles
07-Jul-2007

Queen of Spain Fritillaries (female on left) - North Italy 1-June-2013

Photo © Padfield
North Italy
01-Jun-2013

Queen of Spain Fritillary - Burgas, Bulgaria - July 25th, 2016

Photo © smythric

Queen of Spain Fritillary - Czech Republic - 11-08-2015

Photo © Wurzel

Queen of Spain Fritillary - El Pardo, Madrid 31.03.2012

Photo © Nigel Kiteley
31-Mar-2012

Queen of Spain Fritillary - imago - Thatcham - 02-Nov-06 (0810) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
03-Nov-2006

Queen of Spain female - Switzerland April 2011

Photo © Padfield
Switzerland

Queen of Spain Fritillary - male - Borsodi Mez?ségi, Hungary - 04-Jul-12

Photo © Pete Eeles
04-Jul-2012

Queen of Spain, Chichester, Sussex 10 October 2009

Photo © Neil Hulme
Sussex
10-Oct-2009

Queen of Spain Fritillary - Burgas, Bulgaria - July 24th, 2016

Photo © smythric

Queen of Spain Fritillary - male - Répáshuta, Hungary - 02-Jul-12-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
02-Jul-2012

Photo Album (38 photos) ...


Ovum

Eggs are laid singly and this stage lasts around a week.

Larva

The larva is known to like warmth and is most-active on sunny days. This stage lasts between 3 and 4 weeks and there are 4 moults in total.

The primary larval foodplants are Field Pansy (Viola arvensis) and Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor).

1st Instar

Description to be completed.

2nd Instar

Description to be completed.

3rd Instar

Description to be completed.

4th Instar

Description to be completed.

5th Instar

Description to be completed.

Queen of Spain Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 06-Jul-04 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jul-2004

Queen of Spain Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 10-Sep-06 (0792) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Oct-2006

Queen of Spain Fritillary caterpillar, 20th April 2014, Switzerland.

Photo © Padfield
Switzerland
20-Apr-2014

Queen of Spain fritillary caterpillar, 20th April 2014, Switzerland.

Photo © Padfield
Switzerland
20-Apr-2014

Photo Album (4 photos) ...


Pupa

The pupa is formed head-down, suspended from a stem or twig by the cremaster.

Queen of Spain Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 14-Oct-06 (0787) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
14-Oct-2006

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

Dark Green Fritillary

Description to be completed.

High Brown Fritillary

Description to be completed.

Silver-washed Fritillary

Description to be completed.

Videos


Watch Video

The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Hübner (1819) Hübner, J. (1819) Verzeichniss bekannter Schmettlinge.
Harris (1775b) Harris, M. (1775) The English Lepidoptera: or, The Aurelian's Pocket Companion.
Lewin (1795) Lewin, W. (1795) The Papilios of Great Britain.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Petiver (1702-1706) Petiver, J. (1702-1706) Gazophylacii naturae et artis decas prima.
Rafinesque (1815) Rafinesque, C.S. (1815) Analyse de la nature ou Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés.
Ray (1710) Ray, J. (1710) Historia Insectorum.
Rennie (1832) Rennie, J. (1832) A conspectus of the butterflies and moths found in Britain, with their English and systematic names, times of appearances, sizes, colours, their caterpillars, and various localities.
Swainson (1827) Swainson, W. (1827) A Sketch of the Natural Affinities of the Lepidoptera Diurna of Latreille. The Philosophical magazine : or Annals of chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, natural history and general science.