Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary, butterfly, The LizardThe Silver-washed Fritillary is the largest of the UK Fritillaries. Look out for it at the height of summer, in July and August.
Photo: Ray Surridge

Scientific name: Argynnis paphia

Cornish name: ‘Tikki-dui’ is the general word for butterfly

What to look for:

Colouring: Uppers are streaked and spotted orange and brown, with silvery streaks on the wing undersides (see upper photo this page).
Size: Wingspan: 72 to 76 mm (females are larger).
Where: Flies in sunny glades, but breeds in woods. Widespread across southern England and Wales, with a few colonies further north in England and Northern Ireland. It is absent from Scotland.
When: Mainly July and August, lingering into September.
Similar species: Other Fritillaries, but the Silver-washed is distinguished by having more pointed wings, and the silver streaking on the undersides.

Silver-washed Fritillary, Charles J Sharp via Wikimedia CommonsThis lovely Fritillary species has been recovering recently, following a decline in the last century. You can find it in July and August, when the males fly powerfully through sunny glades and rides in broadleaf woods, feeding on nectar from plants such as bramble. Some individuals linger into September, by which time they may look a little faded and ragged (see lower photo on this page), but are still a pretty sight on an early autumn day.

The main caterpillar foodplant is Common Dog-violet. The eggs are laid from July through to September, with caterpillars overwintering before pupating in June, and then emerging as adults from late June.

Did you know…?

…In southern parts of England, a form valezina exists, in which the females have a greeny-bronze hue to their wings.

…The Silver-washed Fritillary is the largest of the Fritillaries found in the UK.

Silver-washedFritillary, The Lizard

More information and references:

Newland, D., Still, R., Swash, A. and Tomlinson, D., 2002. Britain’s Butterflies. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Britain and Ireland (third edition). Princeton University Press, Oxfordshire.

Published: August 2017
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Upper, Charles J Sharp / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons; lower, Ray Surridge