The swooping flight of this large and graceful butterfly is one of the most beautiful sights to be found in woodland during high summer. A large fast flying butterfly, separated from other fritillaries by its pointed wings and silver streaks on the undersides which can be viewed as it stops to feed on flowers such as Bramble.

Although the butterfly is seen mostly in sunny glades and rides, it actually breeds in the shadier parts of adjacent woodland. In southern England, a small proportion of females have wings that are bronze-green, known as the form valezina.

The Silver-washed Fritillary declined during the twentieth century, especially in England and Wales, but has spread noticeably during recent decades. Widespread across southern England and Wales and more locally in northern England and Ireland.

Size and Family

  • Family: Fritillaries
  • Size: Large
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 72-76mm

Conservation Status

  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low (but a regional priority in several regions)                  
  • European Status: Not threatened 

Caterpillar Foodplants

The main foodplant is Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana) growing in shady or semi-shady positions on the woodland floor.



    Broadleaved woodland, especially oak woodland or woodlands with sunny rides and glades. It occasionally uses mixed broadleaved and conifer plantations. In parts of south-west England and Ireland wooded hedgerows and sheltered lanes next to woods are used.


    • Countries: England, Ireland and Wales
    • Found across Southern England and Wales and throughout Ireland 
    • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s: -29%

    Silver-washed Fritillary - Adam Gor

    Silver-washed Fritillary (Upperside)

    Silver-washed Fritillary (underwing) by Martin Warren

    Silver-washed Fritillary (underwing)

    Silver-washed Fritillary (male & female) by Peter Eeles

    Silver-washed Fritillary (male & female)

    Silver-washed Fritillary (f.valezina) - Andrew Cooper

    Silver-washed Fritillary (f.valezina)

    Silver-washed Fritillary (f.valezina) - Andrew Cooper

    Silver-washed Fritillary (f.valezina)

    Silver-washed Fritillary (caterpillar) by Peter Eeles

    Silver-washed Fritillary (caterpillar)