This large and powerful butterfly is one of our most widespread fritillaries and can be seen flying rapidly in a range of open sunny habitats. The males look similar to the High Brown Fritillary, which is far rarer but sometimes flies with them on bracken-covered hillsides. The two can be distinguished from the underwing markings, visible when they are feeding on flowers such as thistles.

The Dark Green Fritillary has declined in parts of central and eastern England but remains locally abundant in western England, around the coast of Wales and in Scotland.

Size and Family

  • Family: Fritillaries
  • Size: Large
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 63-69mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Medium (but a regional priority in several England regions)  
  • European status: Not threatened 

Caterpillar Foodplants

Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana) is used in many habitats, but Hairy Violet (V. hirta) is also used on calcareous grasslands, and Marsh Violet (V. palustris) on moorland and wetter habitats in the north and west. Other violets may be used occasionally.



Occurs in a range of flower-rich grasslands often with patches of scrub, including: coastal grassland, dunes and scrub; chalk and limestone grassland; moorland and wet flushes; acid grassland with bracken; and occasionally woodland rides and clearings.


  • Countries: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland
  • Throughout Britain, but in discrete areas. Rarer in the east and in Ireland.
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = Britain: -30%

Dark Green Fritillary (upperwing) by Keith Warmington

Dark Green Fritillary (upperwing)

Dark Green Fritillary (underwing) by Peter Eeles

Dark Green Fritillary (underwing)

Dark Green Fritillary (caterpillar) by Peter Eels

Dark Green Fritillary (caterpillar)

Dark Green Fritillary (pupa) by Peter Eeles

Dark Green Fritillary (pupa) by Peter Eeles