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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.
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary 2010
Wingspan
Male: 35 - 41mm
Female: 38 - 44mm
Photo © Gruditch
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Boloria selene
boh-LOR-ee-uh
sell-EE-nee
Number: 59.015
B&F No.: 1600
Family:Nymphalidae (Swainson, 1827)
Subfamily:Heliconiinae (Swainson, 1827)
Tribe:Argynnini (Duponchel, 1835)
Genus:Boloria (Moore, 1900)
Subgenus:Clossiana (Reuss, 1920)
Species:selene (Denis & Schiffermüller, 1775)
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  Introduction  

The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary is a delightful butterfly found in discrete colonies. Patrolling males can be seen flying a couple of feet from the ground, alternating a burst of rapid wing beats with a short glide, searching out freshly-emerged females in the surrounding scrub. The wing pattern, however, makes the adult butterfly difficult to follow in flight, it being much easier to observe this species when it is basking or nectaring on flowers of Bugle and other plants.

This butterfly, like the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, gets its name from the series of "pearls" that run along the outside edge of the underside of the hindwing. The two species may be seen together at certain sites, although the Pearl-bordered Fritillary emerges a couple of weeks before the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary and generally appears much paler as a result. This strongholds of this species are found throughout much of Scotland and Wales, and in the north-western and south-western counties of England with scattered colonies elsewhere. It is absent from the Outer Hebrides, Orkney, Shetland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. This butterfly is found in discrete colonies containing anything between a couple of dozen and 100 adults at peak.

Taxonomy Notes

Until recently, the subspecies insularum was recognised, as defined in Harrison (1937), but is not present in current taxonomy. This subspecies was found in north-west Scotland in several islands that make up the South Ebudes, Mid Ebudes and North Ebudes and the adjacent mainland, reaching into parts of Argyllshire, West Inverness-shire, West Ross and West Sutherland. It is somewhat brighter in colour and markings, on both upper and undersides, than the subspecies selene. Ford (1945a) questions its taxonomic status: "it is perhaps doubtful if it merits a distinct name". Dennis (1977) has a similar view: "It is allegedly brighter in colour and markings on both surfaces than English B. selene, with greater contrast on the undersurface. On this basis the writer finds them difficult to separate from series collected at high altitudes in north Wales".

Boloria selene

This species was first defined in Denis & Schiffermüller (1775) as shown here (type locality: Vienna, Austria). The British population is represented by the nominate subspecies.


Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary- 5D30845 Aberbargoed 9 June 2013
Male
Photo © IainLeach
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Pamber Forest - 28-May-05 (9)
Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 15 June 2010 I9T4217
Female
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 15 June 2010 I9T4824
Female Underside
Photo © IainLeach

  Phenology  

This butterfly first emerges in south-west England, where it may be seen from the beginning of May. This species emerges in the second half of May in other parts of England, and does not make an appearance in Scotland until June. The early emergence of the species in south-west England gives rise to a partial second brood there, which appears 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  

Most English colonies are found in open areas within deciduous woodland, such as woodland clearings. These colonies are generally small, consisting of a few dozen adults at most, and this butterfly is also relatively-sedentary with only a limited capacity for colonising new areas. Colonies in the north are also found in more exposed situations such as marshland and moorland. These are larger colonies of up to 100 individuals, typically spread across extensive areas of land and butterflies in these colonies are relatively-mobile as a result. In Cornwall, colonies occur on moorland and cliffs. At all sites damp areas are preferred, where the foodplants grow particularly vigorously.

  Larval Foodplants  

The primary larval foodplants are Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana) and Marsh Violet (Viola palustris).

  Nectar Sources  

Adults feed primarily on Bugle (Ajuga reptans). Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scriptus), Buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Hawkweeds (Hieracium/Hypochoeris), Heather (Calluna vulgaris / Erica spp.), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.), Thyme (Thymus polytrichus) and Wood Spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides) are also used.

  Imago  

The male butterfly can be seen patrolling low over the breeding sites in search of a mate. When a virgin female is found, the pair quickly mate and generally remain hidden low down in vegetation. Egg-laying females are easy to follow as they flutter slowly and deliberately low down over vegetation, searching out suitable areas of foodplant on which to lay. Both sexes are avid nectar feeders, and can be seen at flowers of Bugle, Buttercup, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Wood Spurge, Ragged-robin and other plants.


Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 02-Jun-06 (0210)
Photo © Pete Eeles
02-Jun-2006
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 04-Jun-06 (0231)
Photo © Pete Eeles
04-Jun-2006
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Bentley Wood - 21-May-08 (11)
Photo © Pete Eeles
21-May-2008
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Pamber Forest - 28-May-05 (9)
Photo © Pete Eeles
28-May-2005
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Pamber Forest - 28-May-05 (10)
Photo © Pete Eeles
28-May-2005
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Bentley Wood - 22-May-09 (3)
Photo © Pete Eeles
22-May-2009
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - Unknown date [Adrian Riley]
Photo © Adrian Riley
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary pair, Park Corner Heath, 1 June 2009
Photo © Neil Hulme
01-Jun-2009
Small-pearl Bordered Fritillary Bentley Wood - 24-5-09
Photo © Gwenhwyfar
24-May-2009
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary underwing
Photo © Gruditch
31-May-2010
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary 2010
Photo © Gruditch
31-May-2010
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - imago - Bentley Wood - 02-Jun-10 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
02-Jun-2010
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary pair. Hareford near Gordon, Berwickshire, Scotland. 20th June 2011.
Photo © IAC
Possibly insularum (Berwickshire)
20-Jun-2011
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Male - Park Corner Heath, Sussex 27-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
27-May-2011
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Male - Park Corner Heath, Sussex 27-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
27-May-2011
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Male - Park Corner Heath, Sussex 27-May-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
27-May-2011
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - imago - Bentley Wood - 10-May-11 (3)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small-Pearl-Bordered-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 15 June 2010 I9T9828
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 15 June 2010 I9T4824
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 15 June 2010 I9T4217
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary-Bentley Wood 15 June 2010 03C1129
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary Bargoed 14 May 2011 03C2698
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary Bargoed 14 May 2011 03C2529
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary Bargoed 14 May 2011 03C2362
Photo © IainLeach
P1040715-800 Small PBF, Bentley Wood, 01/06/2012
Photo © Pauline
01-Jun-2012
P1040636-800 Small PBF, Bentley Wood, 01/06/2012
Photo © Pauline
01-Jun-2012
P1040558-800 Small PBF, Bentley Wood, 01/06/2012
Photo © Pauline
01-Jun-2012
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary female - Wyre Forest 04.06.2012
Photo © nfreem
04-Jun-2012
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-12-1
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-12-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-12-3
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-12-4
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - imago - Glasdrum Wood - 28-May-12-5
Photo © Pete Eeles
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Mating Pair - Debdon Forest, Northumberland - 26th June 2012
Photo © Graham Beckwith
26-Jun-2012
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Female - Debdon Forest, Northumberland - 26th June 2012
Photo © Graham Beckwith
26-Jun-2012
ssp.  insularum. Ravine above the Aultguish Inn, Wester Ross. 2.7.2012.775
Photo © nomad
02-Jul-2012
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary- 5D30703 Aberbargoed 9 June 2013
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary- 5D30845 Aberbargoed 9 June 2013
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary- 5D35495 Aberbargoed 9 June 2013
Photo © IainLeach
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary - Bentley Wood 09-06-2013
Photo © Wurzel
09-Jun-2013
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary- 5D35187 Powys 2 July 2013
Photo © IainLeach
Small-Pearl-bordered-Fritillary- 5D35483 Powys 2 July 2013
Photo © IainLeach
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Bentley Wood - 19 May 2014
Photo © craigbirdphotos
19-May-2014
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - Bentley Wood - 28 May 2014
Photo © craigbirdphotos
28-May-2014
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary - male - Glasdrum Wood - 27-May-14
Photo © Pete Eeles
27-May-2014

  Aberrations  

Description to be completed.

Unclassified Aberrations


Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary , Bentley Wood 23/5/2009
Photo © Gruditch
23-May-2009
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - aberration - Budleigh Salterton, Devon - 07-Jun-09 [ Chris Root]
Photo © Chris Root
07-Jun-2009
male small pearl bordered fritillary ab. chlorographa bentley wood
Photo © geniculata
04-Jun-2005
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary Female (Dark Form) - Park Corner Heath, Sussex 9-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
09-Jun-2010
Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary
Photo © Gwenhwyfar
27-May-2010
081 Male Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (ab. alba or pallida) - Gait Barrows, Cumbria 4-June-12
Photo © Goldie M
04-Jun-2012
082 Male Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (ab. alba or pallida) - Gait Barrows, Cumbria 4-June-12
Photo © Goldie M
04-Jun-2012
088 Male Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (ab. alba or pallida) - Gait Barrows, Cumbria 4-June-12
Photo © Goldie M
04-Jun-2012
089 Male Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (ab. alba or pallida) - Gait Barrows, Cumbria 4-June-12
Photo © Goldie M
04-Jun-2012
101 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (ab. alba or pallida) - Gait Barrows, Cumbria 4-June-12
Photo © Goldie M
04-Jun-2012
102 Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (ab.alba or pallida) - Gait Barrows, Cumbria 4-June-12
Photo © Goldie M
04-Jun-2012
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary aberration, Gordon Moss, Scottish Borders, 25/06/2013
Photo © NickMorgan
25-Jun-2013

  Ovum  

Eggs are laid singly and are initially straw-coloured, becoming grey prior to hatching. They are typically laid on the underside of a leaf of the foodplant, but may also be laid on surrounding vegetation. There is evidence that females will drop eggs while in flight, but only where the female has detected the presence of the foodplant. This stage lasts around 2 weeks.

  Larva  

The larva eats its eggshell on emerging and feeds by day. Unlike the larvae of its close cousin, the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, larvae of the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary tend to avoid direct sunlight when not feeding. This makes them particularly difficult to locate, since they are never found basking on dead bracken or leaf litter. The larvae do, however, leave distinct crescents where they have fed on the heart-shaped leaves of their foodplant. After moulting for the third time, the larva enters hibernation, emerging in the spring to complete its growth. There are 4 moults in total.


Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 10-Sep-06 (0798) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
09-Oct-2006
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 17-Apr-07 (2) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Apr-2007
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - larva - Thatcham - 17-Mar-07 (1005) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
17-Mar-2007

  Pupa  

The pupa is formed head-down in leaf litter, attached by the cremaster. The stage lasts between 2 and 3 weeks.


Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary - pupa - Thatcham - 29-Apr-07 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
29-Apr-2007

  Similar Species  

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

The Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary are most easily distinguished by their undersides. Both species have a row of 7 white "pearls" running along the edge of the hindwing (hence their vernacular names). However, the remainder of the underside of the hindwing is quite different. The Pearl-bordered Fritillary exhibits 2 very distinct additional "pearls", whereas the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary has a mozaic of white, oranges and browns and, as such, has the more colourful underside.


Pearl-bordered Fritillary (left) and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (right)

It is much more difficult to distinguish Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary based on their uppersides. However, there are two general differences. The first is with regard to the row of chevrons at the edge of the forewings. In the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, these chevrons are often "floating" and not attached to the outer margin, whereas these chevrons are attached to the edge of the forewing in the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. The second is with regard to the row of spots found next to these chevrons. In the Pearl-bordered Fritillary, each of these spots is positioned midway between neighbouring markings. In the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, the dots are not midway, but distinctly closer to the chevrons.


Pearl-bordered Fritillary (left) and Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (right)
  Videos  

Video © John Chapple
Small pearl-bordered Fritillary.
Video © wrynecksrus
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (single)
Video © wrynecksrus
Smal Pearl Bordered Fritillaries, Langford Heathfield

  Sites  

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

Sites
Abbots Wood, Aberbargoed Grasslands, Aberfoyle Wildlife Site, Aird of Sleat, Allt Mhuic Nature Reserve, Ariundle Wood, Arnside Knott, Ashclyst Forest, Barkbooth Lot, Bentley Wood, Bicton Common, Birkhill forest, Blackadon, Bovey Valley Woodlands, Brackett's Coppice, Breney Common, Cambus O'May, Cannock Chase, Cashel, Clatworthy Reservoir, Coed Allt Fedw, Craigellachie National Nature Reserve, Craigower Hill, Crook Peak, Dinas Dinlle Sand Dunes, Dolebury Warren, Drumpelier Country Park, Dunsford Meadow, Earl's Hill, Earlshall Muir, East Budleigh Common, East Prawle coast, Eyarth Rocks, Fen Bog, Feoch Meadows, Flatropers Wood, Gait Barrows, Glasdrum Wood, Glen Doll Forest, Glen Fionnlighe, Glen Gour, Glen Loy, Glen Moss, Glen Ogle cycle track, Great Torrington Commons, Greenscombe Woods, Haddon Moor, Haldon Butterfly Walk, Haldon Woods, Heddon Valley, Hembury Woods, Hutton Roof Crags, Inversnaid, Keltneyburn, Kenfig Pool, Kilvey Hill, Kingcombe Meadows, Kingcombe Redholm, Kingcombe Stones, Kinloch Glen, Lake Vyrnwy, Langford Heathfield, Latterbarrow, Laughton Common Wood, Leighton Moss, Little Breach, Little Drum Wood, Llanymynech Rocks, Loch an Eilean, Loch Ardinning, Loch Lurgainn, Loch of Aboyne, Lochaber Loch, Lydford Old Railway, Lydlinch Common, Lynachlaggan Birchwood, Mabie Forest, Marsland Reserve, May Beck, Morrone Birkwood, Mount Fancy Reserve, Nagshead, New Bridge, Old Castle Down, Oxwich, Park Corner Heath, Porthgwarra, Powerstock Common, Priddy Mineries, Quoditch Moor Nature Reserve, Roudsea Wood NNR, South Stack Cliffs, St. David's Head, Start Point, The Stiperstones, Toads Hole, Tyndrum Community Woodlands, Ubley Warren, Warton Crag, Watersmeet, Welsh Moor, West Down, West Hook Cliffs, Whitbarrow Scar, Wood of Cree, Wyre Forest, Ynys-Hir

  Conservation Status  

Despite some stability in the west and north, this species has suffered a long-term decline in both distribution and population. The cessation of coppicing in woodlands, which creates the right habitat for the adult and that encourages vigorous growth of the foodplant, is believed to be a primary cause of the decline. This species is therefore a priority species for conservation efforts.

UK BAP StatusDistribution Trend (%)Population Trend (%)
Priority Species
Click here to access the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for this species.
Decrease-12
Decrease-19

The table above shows the distribution and population trends of species regularly found in the British Isles. The distribution trend represents a comparison between data for the periods 1995-1999 and 2005-2009. The information provided is taken from the Butterfly Conservation report The State of the UK's Butterflies 2011. The UK BAP status is taken from 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
Denis & Schiffermüller (1775) Denis, J.N.C.M. and Schiffermüller, I. (1775) Systematischez Verzeichniss der Schmetterlinge der Wienergegend.
Dennis (1977) Dennis, R.L.H. (1977) The British Butterflies - Their Origin and Establishment.
Duponchel (1835) Duponchel, P.A.J. (1835) Histoire naturelle des lépidoptères ou papillons de France, par M. J.-B. Godart. Continuée par P.-A.-J. Duponchel. Diurnes. Supplément aux tomes premier et deuxième.
Ford (1945a) Ford, E.B. (1945) Butterflies.
Harrison (1937) Harrison, J.W.H. (1937) Rhapolocera on the Island of Scalpay, with an account of the occurrence of Nymphalis io on Raasay. The Entomologist.
Moore (1900) Moore, F. (1900) Lepidoptera indica.
Reuss (1920) Reuss, T. (1920) Die Androconien von Yramea cytheris Drury und die nächststehenden analogen Schuppenbildungen bei Dione Hbn. und Brenthis Hbn. (Lep.). Entomologische Mitteilungen.
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.

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