This large, powerful butterfly is usually seen flying swiftly over the tops of bracken or low vegetation in woodland clearings. In flight, the males are almost impossible to separate from those of the Dark Green Fritillary, which often share the same habitats. However, both species frequently visit flowers such as thistles and Bramble where it is possible to see their distinctive underside wing markings. The Dark Green lacks the orange ringed 'pearls' on the underside of the hindwing.
The High Brown Fritillary was once widespread in England and Wales but since the 1950s has undergone a dramatic decline. It is now reduced to around 50 sites where conservationists are working to save it from extinction.
Size and Family
- Family: Fritillaries
- Size: Large
- Wing Span Range (male to female): 60-67mm
- Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in England
- Section 42 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in Wales
- UK BAP: Priority Species
- Butterfly Conservation priority: High
- European status: Not threatened
- Fully protected in Great Britain under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act
Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana) is used in all habitats, but Hairy Violet (V. hirta) is also used in limestone areas. It may occasionally use Heath Dog-violet (V. canina) and Pale Dog-violet (V. lactea).
Two main habitats are used: Bracken dominated habitats or grass/Bracken mosaics and limestone rock outcrops (usually where scrub or woodland has recently been cleared or coppiced).
- Countries: England and Wales
- Britain's most endangered butterfly, the High Brown has undergone a massive decline, strongholds now remain on Morecambe Bay Limestones, Dartmoor, Exmoor and it is down to a single colony in Wales.
- Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -79%.