This is one of the earliest fritillaries to emerge and can be found as early as April in woodland clearings or rough hillsides with bracken.

It flies close to the ground, stopping regularly to feed on spring flowers such as Bugle. It can be distinguished from the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary by the two large silver 'pearls' and a row of seven outer 'pearls' on the underside hind wing, and also the red (as opposed to black) chevrons around the outer pearls and the small central spot on the hind wing.

The butterfly was once very widespread but has declined in recent decades.

Size and Family

  • Family: Fritillaries
  • Size: Medium
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 44-47mm

Caterpillar Foodplants

The most widely used foodplant is Common Dog-violet (Viola riviniana) although it can use other violets such as Heath Dog-Violet (V. canina) and Marsh Violet (V. palustris).



Three main habitats are used: woodland clearings, usually in recently coppiced or clear-felled woodland; well-drained habitats with mosaics of grass, dense bracken and light scrub and open deciduous wood pasture in Scotland.  

In all habitats, it requires abundant foodplants growing in short, sparse vegetation, where there is abundant leaf litter.