Marsh Fritillary

  • Marsh Fritillary (upperwing)
    Marsh Fritillary (upperwing)
  • Marsh Fritillary (upperwing female)
    Marsh Fritillary (upperwing female)
  • Marsh Fritillary (egg)
    Marsh Fritillary (egg)
  • Marsh Fritillary (caterpillar)
    Marsh Fritillary (caterpillar)
  • Video play iconMarsh Fritillary (upperwing)
    Marsh Fritillary (video)
  • Marsh Fritillary (upperwing)
    Marsh Fritillary (upperwing)
  • Marsh Fritillary (upperwing female)
    Marsh Fritillary (upperwing female)
  • Marsh Fritillary (egg)
    Marsh Fritillary (egg)
  • Marsh Fritillary (caterpillar)
    Marsh Fritillary (caterpillar)
  • Marsh Fritillary (upperwing)
    Marsh Fritillary (video)

Scientific name: Euphydryas aurinia

The checked wings of this lovely butterfly are more colourful and brightly patterned than any of our other fritillaries.

The Marsh Fritillary is threatened, not only in the UK but across Europe and is therefore, the object of much conservation effort.

The wings of this beautiful butterfly are more brightly patterned than those of other fritillaries, with more heavily marked races being found in Scotland and Ireland. The larvae spin conspicuous webs that can easily be recorded in late summer.

The Marsh Fritillary was once widespread in Britain and Ireland but has declined severely over the twentieth century, a decline mirrored throughout Europe. Its populations are highly volatile and the species probably requires extensive habitats or habitat networks for its long term survival.

Size and Family

  • Family – Fritillaries, Duke of Burgundy
  • Medium Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 42-48mm

Conservation status

  • Listed as a Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in England
  • Listed as a Section 42 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in Wales
  • Classified as a Northern Ireland Priority Species by the NIEA
  • Protected under the Nature Conservation Act in Scotland
  • UK BAP: Priority Species    
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High                         
  • European status: Vulnerable                    
  • Fully protected in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Caterpillar Foodplants

The main foodplant is Devil's-bit-Scabious (Succisa pratensis). On calcareous grassland, it occasionally uses Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) and Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria).

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland
  • Massively declined and now restricted to the west coast of Scotland, western Wales, Northern Ireland and South West and central southern England.
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -46%.

Habitat

There are two main habitat types; damp grasslands dominated by tussock forming grasslands and chalk grasslands (usually on west or south-facing slopes in England).  Temporary colonies may also exist in large (>1 ha) woodland clearings and in other grasslands.

Factsheets

Similar species