The Fritillaries

Above, a field of Devil’s Bit Scabius, food plant of the Marsh Fritillary.

We have two Fritillary species that we see regularly here: the Marsh Fritillary, which has a high priority in terms of its conservation status, and the Dark Green Fritillary which is apparently more common and less threatened. Both are beautiful, photogenic butterflies.

There are other Fritillaries to be found near by, and I’ve seen Fritillary-coloured butterflies zooming past at various times, but as yet have been unable to get any pictures of them. The Duke of Burgundy, categorised as a “Metalmark”, is of similar colouring to the Fritillaries, and can be found locally, though I understand not many have been seen this year.

The Marsh Fritillaries up on the plain appear relatively early in the year around May time, and we see them when the Burnt Tip Orchids orchids are out, along with the Stars of Bethlehem whose nectar they seem to be keen on.

A glisteningly fresh example (above left). Marsh Fritillaries often rest with their forewings laid back (above right), like some moths.

The Dark Green Fritillaries are keen, as most downland butterflies are, on Knapweed and thistle flowers.

It has a stunningly vivid orange upper wing but is named after its dull darkish green underwing.

One of the features of this butterfly that appeals is the little orange dot at the end of each antennae. Similar, and in contrast to, the black tip of the Essex Skipper’s antennae.

So, just the two Fritillaries for now. Hopefully next year will produce one or two more.

Coppers and Hairstreaks

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