Silver-washed Fritillary

Argynnis paphia (ar-GIN-iss PA-fee-uh)

Silver Washed Fritillary (male) - 22nd June 2014, Lower Woods, nr. Wickwar, Gloucestershire
Photo © David M
 

Wingspan
Male: 69 - 76mm
Female: 73 - 80mm

Checklist Number
59.017

Family:NymphalidaeRafinesque, 1815
Subfamily:HeliconiinaeSwainson, 1827
Tribe:ArgynniniSwainson, 1833
Genus:ArgynnisFabricius, 1807
Subgenus:ArgynnisFabricius, 1807
Species:paphia(Linnaeus, 1758)
Subspecies:paphia(Linnaeus, 1758)
Form:paphia (Linnaeus, 1758)
 valesina Esper, 1800

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Introduction

This butterfly is our largest fritillary and gets its name from the beautiful streaks of silver found on the underside of the wings. The bright orange male is quite distinctive as it flies powerfully along woodland rides, pausing only briefly to feed or investigate anything with an orange hue that could be a potential mate. The male has four distinctive black veins on its forewings that contain special "androconial" scales that are used in courtship. These veins are known as "sex brands". The female is paler than the male, has rounder wings and more-prominent spots. In England and Wales, the Silver-washed Fritillary is found in woodlands south of a line between Montgomeryshire in the west and East Kent in the east, with a few scattered colonies elsewhere, including those in Westmorland and West Lancashire. This species is also widely distributed in Ireland, but is absent from Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

Argynnis paphia ssp. paphia f. paphia

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

The nominate form is found throughout the range of this species.
Silver-washed Fritillary male - Southwater, Sussex 23-June-2010

Male
Photo © Neil Hulme

Silver-washed Fritillary, Male, The Straits, 09/07/2013

Male Underside
Photo © Pauline

Silver-washed-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 17 July 2010 03C9894

Female
Photo © IainLeach

Silver-washed Fritillary, Female, The Straits, 09/07/2013

Female Underside
Photo © Pauline

Photo Album ...


Argynnis paphia ssp. paphia f. valesina

This form was first defined in Esper (1800) as shown here and as shown in this plate.

This spectacular form occurs in a small percentage of females, primarily in the larger colonies in the south of England, where the orange-brown colouring is replaced with a deep olive-green. The legendary lepidopterist, Frederick William Frohawk, was so taken with this form, that he named his only daughter after it. This form is quite distinctive in flight, looking like an overgrown Ringlet, and has the common name of the "Greenish Silver-washed Fritillary".

Male

Male Underside

Silver-washed Fritillary female f. valesina - Snitterfield 13.07.2014

Female
Photo © Neil Freeman

Silver-washed fritillary valezina(?) Arda Valley Bulgaria 17/6/13

Female Underside
Photo © jamesweightman

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
1699Greater Silver-streaked FritillaryPetiver (1695-1703)
1717Greater Silverstreakt Orange Fritillary (male)Petiver (1717)
1717Greater Silverstreakt Golden Fritillary (female)Petiver (1717)
1742Great FritillaryWilkes (1742)
1766Silver-washed FretillariaHarris (1766)
1775Silver Wash FritillaryHarris (1775a)
1795Silver Streak FritillaryLewin (1795)
1798Silver Stripe FritillaryDonovan (1798)
1803Silver-washed FritillaryHaworth (1803)
1910Silver-stroaked FritillaryRay (1710)

Conservation Status

The status of the Silver-washed Fritillary in the British Isles is relatively-stable when compared with other species. However, this delightful woodland fritillary is still a species of conservation concern.

UK BAP StatusOccurrence Change
1976-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
1976-2014 (%)
Occurrence Change
2005-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
2005-2014 (%)
Species of Conservation Concern
Large Increase+56
Large Increase+141
Large Increase+55
Stable+6

The table above shows the occurrence (distribution) and abundance (population) trends, using information from The State of the UK's Butterflies 2015 (Fox, 2015). Any UK BAP status is taken from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).

Habitat

This butterfly is most-commonly found in woodland where the larval foodplant, Common Dog-violet, grows on the woodland floor. The butterfly can also be found flying along lanes and more-open countryside in some areas. Both deciduous and coniferous woodland is used - the presence of this butterfly is only limited by the presence of nectar sources and larval food plant.

Distribution

 

Click here to see the distribution of this species or here to see the distribution of this species together with specific site information overlaid.

Life Cycle

There is a single generation each year, with the butterfly on the wing from late June to the end of August.

Argynnis paphia ssp. paphia f. paphia

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.

Imago

The adults spend much of their time in the woodland canopy where they feed on aphid honeydew. However, they often descend to nectar on Bramble blossom and Thistle flowers - two of their favourite nectar sources.

The courtship flight of this butterfly is one of the most spectacular of all the British species. The female flies in a straight line while the male continuously loops under, in front and then over the top of the female. With the courtship flight over, the pair lands on a convenient platform where the male showers the female in scent scales. The male then draws the female's antennae over the sex brand and mating subsequently takes place.

Adults feed primarily on Bramble (Rubus fruticosus). Fleabane (Pulicaria dysenterica), Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea), Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.) and Water Mint (Mentha aquatica) are also used.

Argynnis paphia ssp. paphia f. paphia

Silver-washed-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 17 July 2010 03C0299

Photo © IainLeach

Silver Washed Fritillary (male) - 22nd June 2014, Lower Woods, nr. Wickwar, Gloucestershire

Photo © David M

Silver-washed Fritillary - Male - Bedford Purlieus - 20.06.2011

Photo © PhiliB
20-Jun-2011

Silver Washed Fritillary Male - Southwater Wood, Sussex 24-June-09

Photo © Vince Massimo
24-Jun-2009

SWF emerging from pupa, Liphook (reared), 29/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
29-Jun-2015

Silver Washed Fritillary Male - Botany Bay/Oaken Wood, Sussex 28-June-09

Photo © Vince Massimo
28-Jun-2009

Silver-Washed Fritillary - imago - Pamber Forest - 11-Jun-11 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles

Silver-washed Fritillary - Bedford Purlieus - 24.06.2011

Photo © PhiliB
24-Jun-2011

Silver-Washed Fritillary - imago - Thatcham - 25-Jun-08 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
25-Jun-2008

Silver-washed Fritillary (male), Surrey (23 July 2012)

Photo © Mark Colvin
23-Jul-2012

Silver-washed Fritillary, Female, The Straits, 09/07/2013

Photo © Pauline
09-Jul-2013

Silver-washed Fritillary - imago - Pamber Forest - 05-Jul-10 (4)

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Jul-2010

Silverwashed Fritillary pair - Heddon Valley 9th July 2009

Photo © NickB
09-Jul-2009

Silver-washed Fritillary (m) Black Park (Strawberry Wood) Bucks 5th July 2012

Photo © millerd
05-Jul-2012

Silver-washed Fritillary - male - Stourhead 26-07-2013

Photo © Wurzel
26-Jul-2013

silver washed, female wootton coppice 09

Photo © geniculata
05-Jul-2008

Silver-washed Fritillary - Female - Bedford Purlieus - 28.07.2013

Photo © PhiliB
28-Jul-2013

Silver-washed Fritillary - Bedford Purlieus - 20.06.2011

Photo © PhiliB
20-Jun-2011

Silver-washed-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 17 July 2010 03C0411

Photo © IainLeach

Silver-washed Fritillary female - Snitterfield Bushes Warwickshire 21.07.2012

Photo © Neil Freeman
21-Jul-2012

Photo Album ...


Argynnis paphia ssp. paphia f. valesina

Silver-washed Fritillary  f. valesina

Photo © Gruditch
06-Jul-2008

Silver-Washed Fritillary - imago - Bentley Wood - 11-Jul-06 (2) [Tony Wootton]

Photo © Tony Wootton

f. valezina

Photo © Neil Hulme
28-Jun-2010

form valesina, wootton coppice inclosure 09

Photo © geniculata
15-Jul-2009

form valesina, wootton coppice inclosure  08

Photo © geniculata

Silver-washed Fritillary female f. valesina - Snitterfield 13.07.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
13-Jul-2014

Silver-Washed Fritillary - imago - Farley Mount, Hants - Unknown date [Adrian Riley]

Photo © Adrian Riley

form valesina, wootton coppice inclosure   09

Photo © geniculata
15-Jul-2009

form valesina in wooton coppice inclosure new forest 06

Photo © geniculata
08-Jul-2006

Silver-Washed Fritillary - form - Grovely Woods, Wiltshire - 05-Jul-09 [Jules Cross]

Photo © Jules Cross
05-Jul-2009

form valesina mating, wootton coppice 08

Photo © geniculata
05-Jul-2008

Silver-Washed Fritillary - imago - Inwood, nr Bath - 08-Jul-06 [Simon Crampin]

Photo © Simon Crampin

Silver-Washed Fritillary - imago - Bentley Wood - 11-Jul-06 [Tony Wootton]

Photo © Tony Wootton

Silver-washed Fritillary - imago - Pamber Forest - 05-Jul-10 (1)

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Jul-2010

Silver-washed Fritillary female f. valesina - Snitterfield 13.07.2014

Photo © Neil Freeman
13-Jul-2014

Silver Washed Fritillary f. valesina - Snitterfield Bushes 02.07.2011-104

Photo © Neil Freeman
02-Jul-2011

Silver-washed Fritillary - valesina - Bentley Wood - 06-07-2014

Photo © Wurzel

silver washed fritillary, form valesina mating 08.

Photo © geniculata
05-Jul-2008

silver washed fritillary, form valesina mating 08

Photo © geniculata

Silver-washed Fritillary - imago - Pamber Forest - 05-Jul-10 (6)

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Jul-2010

Photo Album ...


Ovum

Egg-laying females can be seen flying over the woodland floor searching out the larval foodplant, Common Dog-violet. They will sometimes alight on the woodland floor and crawl among the vegetation to determine the suitability of the site. If a suitable location is found, then the female flies to a nearby tree trunk and lays a single egg in a chink on the tree bark and several eggs may be laid on the same tree. These are typically laid on the moss-covered north-facing side of the tree and between 1 and 2 metres from the ground. It is believed that such a location provides a suitable "microclimate" for the overwintering larva.

Silver-Washed Fritillary - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (2) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Silver-Washed Fritillary - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (3) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Silver-Washed Fritillary - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (4) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

silver washed fritillary egg on birch trunk, wootton coppice 09

Photo © geniculata
09-Jul-2009

SWF ovum laid six feet up on the north side of an Oaktree - Wyre Forest 06.07.14

Photo © Tony Moore
06-Jul-2014

Silver-washed Fritillary - ovum - Pamber Forest - 15-Jul-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Jul-2014

Silver-washed Fritillary - ovum - Pamber Forest - 15-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
15-Jul-2014

Silver-washed Fritillary - ovum - Pamber Forest - 19-Jul-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jul-2014

Silver-washed Fritillary - ovum - Pamber Forest - 19-Jul-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jul-2014

SWF ovum, Oxenbourne Down, 30/07/2015

Photo © Pauline
30-Jul-2015

Photo Album ...


Larva

The egg hatches in around 2 weeks. The larva, having eaten part of its eggshell, immediately moves into a crevice in the bark and spins a silk pad on which it hibernates. The following spring, the larva descends the tree trunk to the woodland floor in search of its first meal of violets. Larvae feed intermittently during the day on the most-tender leaves and shoots.

The larva enjoys basking in sunlight and will wander away from the foodplant to find a suitable place to bask, such as on leaf litter. There are 4 moults in total.

The primary larval foodplant is Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana).

SWF larva, Alice Holt, 24/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
24-Apr-2015

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 10-May-04 (2) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
07-May-2004

SWF larva, Burgess Hill 26/04/15

Photo © MarkIvan
26-Apr-2015

SWF larva, Alice Holt, 24/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
24-Apr-2015

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 11-May-11 (13) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles

SWF larva, Alice Holt, 21/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
21-Apr-2015

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

SWF larva, Alice Holt, 24/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
24-Apr-2015

Silver-washed Fritillary - larva (1st instar) - Pamber Forest - 07-Aug-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Aug-2014

SWF larva after shedding skin, Liphook (reared), 04/05/2015

Photo © Pauline
04-May-2015

SWF larva, Burgess Hill 26/04/15

Photo © MarkIvan
26-Apr-2015

SWF larva, Alice Holt, 22/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
22-Apr-2015

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 20-May-04 (4) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-May-2004

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 10-May-04 (4) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-May-2004

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 29-May-08 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
29-May-2008

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 26-May-04 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
28-May-2004

SWF larva, reared, o4/05/2015

Photo © Pauline
04-May-2015

SWF larva, Alice Holt, 24/04/2015

Photo © Pauline
24-Apr-2015

SWF larva preparing to pupate, reared, 27/05/2015

Photo © Pauline
27-May-2015

Silver-Washed Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 28-May-06 (0148) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
28-May-2006

Photo Album ...


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.

Pupa

The pupa is formed head down beneath a leaf, or twig of a tree or shrub, attached by the cremaster, and resembles a shrivelled leaf. This stage lasts between 2 and 3 weeks, depending on temperature.

Silver-Washed Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 26-May-04 (2) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
29-May-2004

Silver-Washed Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 26-May-04 (3) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
29-May-2004

Silver-Washed Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 29-May-08 (1) {REARED}

Photo © Pete Eeles
29-May-2008

Silver-Washed Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 31-May-04 (2) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
31-May-2004

SWF pupa, Liphook (reared), 13/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
13-Jun-2015

SWF pupa, Liphook (reared), 28/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
28-Jun-2015

SWF pupa, Liphook (reared), 28/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
29-Jun-2015

SWF pupa, Liphook (reared), 28/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
29-Jun-2015

SWF pupa, Liphook (reared), 29/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
29-Jun-2015

SWF pupa, Liphook (reared), 29/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
29-Jun-2015

SWF emerging from pupa, Liphook (reared), 29/06/2015

Photo © Pauline
29-Jun-2015

Photo Album ...


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.

Queen of Spain Fritillary

Description to be completed.

Videos


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The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Donovan (1798) Donovan, E. (1798) The Natural History of British Insects (Vol.7).
Esper (1800) Esper, E.J.C. (1800) Die Schmetterlinge in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen.
Fabricius (1807) Fabricius, J.C. (1807) Magazin für Insektenkunde, herausgegeben von Karl Illiger.
Harris (1766) Harris, M. (1766) The Aurelian. Edition 1.
Harris (1775a) Harris, M. (1775) The Aurelian. Edition 2.
Haworth (1803) Haworth, A.H. (1803) Lepidoptera Britannica.
Lewin (1795) Lewin, W. (1795) The Papilios of Great Britain.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Petiver (1695-1703) Petiver, J. (1695-1703) Musei Petiveriani centuria prima-decima, rariora naturae continens.
Petiver (1717) Petiver, J. (1717) Papilionum Britanniae Icones.
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.
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.
Wilkes (1742) Wilkes, B. (1742) Twelve New Designs of English Butterflies.