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Marsh Fritillary

Euphydryas aurinia

Marsh Fritillary

A close up picture of a Euphydryas aurinia marsh fritillary butterfly insect resting on a green plant
Euphydryas aurinia female 2011 2 by Le.Loup.Gris (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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Euphydryas aurinia is a pretty, checkered butterfly belonging to the brush-footed family (Nymphalidae). It's possible to see the adult butterfly from May in Europe. They're now extremely scarce in numbers due to habitat loss. More specifically, these unique butterflies favour large areas with unimproved grassland, lightly grazed by cattle. Also, they require an abundance of Devil's-bit Scabious, which is the only plant the caterpillars will feed. The plants must be positioned in grasslands receiving plenty of sun, yet are still substantially sheltered from the wind. Conservation efforts are being made to restore populations by linking together fragmented habitats. Population numbers are also impacted by weather conditions, as well as predator abundances in the year.
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Traits

A pretty butterfly that's a real treat to observe.
There is an evident fall in population numbers due to loss of suitable habitat.

Appearance

Adults: The males and female wing patterning demonstrate classic brown, orange and white-cream checkerboard patterning. Wingspans measure between 3-4cm. Larvae: They are black and furry, typically hidden beneath tents of dense webbing, which protects them from predators. Pupae: Brown and cream and attached beneath leaves. Eggs: Eggs are tiny, pale yellow and laid in clusters of up to 300.

Activity

Diurnal

Personality

Order

Lepidoptera

Family

Nymphalidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

Some parts of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Europe.

Biological treatment

These butterflies will rarely lay eggs in gardens due to the enormous amount of habitat and Devil's Scabious they require to breed successfully. The best way to observe them is when on country walks in rural areas surrounded by large areas of farmland.

Attracts

Devil's-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis). Niitvälja bog, Keila, Northwestern Estonia.

Devil's-Bit Scabious

Succisa pratensis

Repels

They're predated by parasitic wasps and flies.
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