Marsh fritillary - Euphydryas aurinia

Upperside.  

Family: Nymphalidae.

Flight Time: Mid April - Mid July.

Size: 30-46mm

Altitude: 0-2200m

A very attractive species which as the name implies likes damp areas, it is by no means exclusive to these areas though. The specimen above is perched on Heath-spotted orchid, Dactylorhiza maculata.

 

A very variable species with many named subspecies and forms. The one above and the one to the right were taken on the same day at the same site. Look at the yellow markings on the hindwing edge.

Darker form.
Form debilis. This is the debilis form which only occurs high in mountains. It is very small, only a quarter of the size of the usual form.
The larvae are notable in their sociable habits. They spin a communal web near to large patches of their foodplant, Devils bit scabious. Their dark colouration and close proximity to one another means they can raise their body temperatures to a sufficiently high level to digest their food (about 35 C), even though they are on the floor of a marsh. When they've finished this digestion process they disperse in ones and twos to eat more then return again to the commune. The picture to the left was taken on a very damp marshy area on the southern edge of Dartmoor in the UK. Marsh fritillary larval nest

 

Fact File

Similar Species Foodplants Habitat Distribution

 

Succisa pratensis, Plantago

Damp flowery places.

Distribution.

Change map to  

 

Early Stages

 

  aurinia_larva.jpg (9227 bytes)  
 
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All pictures in these pages copyright to Simon Coombes. Permission must be sought and obtained for any use.