The Dark Green Fritillary Argynnis aglaja (syn. Speyeria aglaja) gets its common name from a dark greenish tinge to the undersides of its wings, which are decorated with large silver spots. A male is shown above, while a female can be seen in the picture below.
This large fritillary is a strong flier, and it loves sunny flower-rich meadows.
Large populations occur in chalk and limestone areas, particularly where wild violets, including mountain species, (its larval foodplants) are plentiful.
In Britain there this is one of the most widespread of butterflies, being seen throughout England, Wales and Scotland - even on the exposed Orkney and Shetland Islands. In Ireland the distribution of the Dark Green Fritillary is mainly concentrated in coastal areas.
Elsewhere the range of the Dark Green Fritillary is very wide, covering Europe, northern Africa and much of Asia including Japan.
In July and early August the Dark Green Fritillaries lay straw-yellow eggs on or near to the larval foodplants, violets (Viola species). including, particularly on woodland edges, the Dog Violet Viola riviniana.
In August the eggs hatch and the larvae eat the empty eggshells and then go into hibernation in leaf litter until the following March. When they wake up, the dark mottled caterpillars, with black heads, blackish spines and yellow dorsal stripes, feed on violet leaves until some time in May or early June (depending on altitude and longitude); then they pupate and produce a shiny black and brown chrysalis.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed Betty and Tony Rackham.
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