The Queen of Spain Fritillary is a large and distinctive butterfly with a wingspan of 3.8 to 4.5cm. Its hindwings are more sharply angular than most other fritillaries, and the upperwings have regular rows of rounded spots.
The undersides of the hindwings are decorated with large pearly spots - visible in the pictures immediately above and below.
The Queen of Spain Fritillary is a very rare migrant to southern Britain. Its native range covers most of mainland Europe, however, except for the far north of Scandinavia, and extends southwards into northern Africa and eastwards through Asia as far as eastern China.
This migrant species is found in a variety of mainly dryish habitats including heathland and herb-rich meadows, but also in fields with arable crops, on rocky hill slopes, and on woodland edges.
The larval foodplants of the Queen of Spain Fritillary are various violets, Viola species, but particularly Viola arvensis and Viola tricolor, as seen in the picture below. There are three broods per year, and adults can be seen in flight from late March to October. The adult butterflies take nectar from a variety of wildflowers but most notably various kinds of thistles.
The specimens shown on this page were photographed in France and in Bulgaria.
This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Steve Jelf.
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