Small pearl-bordered fritillary

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary butterfly

©Bob Coyle

Small pearl-bordered fritillary

Scientific name: Boloria selene
The small pearl-bordered fritillary is a pretty orange-and-brown butterfly of damp grassland, moorland, and open woodland. It gets its name from the row of 'pearls' on the underside of its hindwings.

Species information


Wingspan: 3.5-4.4cm

Conservation status

Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

May to August


The small pearl-bordered fritillary is widespread and sometimes abundant in Scotland and Wales, but has undergone severe declines. It occurs in damp, grassy habitats, as well as in woodland clearings and on moorland. The adults fly low to the ground using a flutter-and-glide pattern, stopping to nectar at bramble and thistle flowers. The caterpillar feeds on violets, typically common dog-violet and marsh violet.

How to identify

The small pearl-bordered fritillary is an orange butterfly with black marks on the upperside of the wings. It has black-and-silver markings on its underside, along with a row of white 'pearls' on the outer edge of the wing. It can be confused with the pearl-bordered fritillary, which is similar in size and appearance. They are most easily distinguished by their undersides - each has a row of seven pearls, but the Pearl-bordered Fritillary exhibits two very distinct additional pearls, while the small pearl-bordered fritillary has a colourful mosaic of white, orange and brown markings.


Mainly found in western areas of the UK, with strongholds in Scotland, Wales and South West England.

Did you know?

The small pearl-bordered fritillary first emerges in South West England in May. The timing of emergence moves gradually northwards, and it does not appear until June in Scotland. Its early appearance in the south means a second brood is possible.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.