Silver-washed fritillary

Silver-washed Fritillary

Silver-washed fritillary ©Don Sutherland

Silver-washed fritillary

Scientific name: Argynnis paphia
The silver-washed fritillary gets its name from the silver streaks on its underside. It is on the wing in summer, preferring sunny glades in woodlands. Despite declines, its range has spread over recent years.

Species information


Wingspan: 6.9-8.0cm

Conservation status


When to see

June to August


The silver-washed fritillary is a large, pale orange butterfly, so-named for the silver streaks on its underside. Adults are on the wing throughout the summer, from late June to the end of August. Silver-washed fritillaries live in large broadleaved woodlands (especially oak woodlands), and feed on Bramble and other flowers in sunny glades and rides. The caterpillars feed on violets, particularly common dog-violet.

How to identify

The silver-washed fritillary is pale orange with an intricate pattern of black spots and lines on the upperwings. The underside of the rear wing is washed lime-green and pink, with silvery streaks running across it. The silver-washed fritillary can be distinguished from the other large fritillaries by the pattern on its underside. The male also has four, very broad, black stripes across the forewings.


Found in southern England.

Did you know?

The courtship flight of the silver-washed fritillary is impressive: the male flies in a loop under, in front of, and then over the top of the female, who continues to fly in a straight line. The pair will alight on a convenient platform and the male showers the female in scent scales from the four dark veins on its forewings known as 'sex brands'.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of butterflies, including the silver-washed fritillary. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for butterflies.