Sunday, 12 March 2017

Silver-washed Fritillary

The Silver-washed Fritillaries are commonly found in southern England and Wales, and also parts of Northern and Southern Ireland.

They prefer sunny woodland rides but, can also be found on disused fields/meadows surrounded by trees and sometimes in gardens.

 Flight season
From the middle of June to late August and, are single brooded.

They nectar on a variety of flora, including Thistles and Tufted Vetch, and their favourite, Bramble Flowers.

The undersides of the wings are similar in both sexes but, the male has four very distinctive sex brands/bars on the upper forewing [they look like three joined-up H's] which are absent on the female's forewings.

Male Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on Bramble Flowers
Clearly showing the four sex brands/bars
Male Silver-washed Fritillary on Tufted Vetch showing the undersides of it's wings
which are similar to the females
Female Silver-washed Fritillary

There are many aberrations to this species, and some are quite incredibly beautiful.

A rare and unusual male Silver-washed Fritillary aberration
Another beautiful male Silver-washed Fritillary aberration
The courtship is probably the most energetic of any butterfly, with the male chasing after the female down woodland rides and continuously looping the female, [continuously flying over the top of the female, then dropping back behind her and repeating this over and over again].

A male Silver-washed Fritillary [top] just completing half the loop
on a female in the courtship ritual
Once mated the females lay their eggs [ova, ovum] on the moss covered bark of north facing Oak Trees, with Dog Violets close by. The eggs when first laid are a light yellow in colour, turning a bluey-grey after about two weeks and hatching a further week later.

A freshly laid Silver-washed Fritillary's egg thats been attached to
the Moss growing on the bark of an Oak Tree
A Silver-washed Fritillary egg after two weeks
This particular egg has not hatched, but has been sucked dry
by another insect
When the tiny larva hatch, and have eaten it's empty egg shell, they immediately bury themselves deep into a crevice in the bark of the Oak Tree, hibernating there throughout the winter months. They emerge again in the Spring.

All photographs are the copyright of Nick Broomer

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