With the warm (phew!!) weather that we're experiencing at the moment the butterfly season has well and truly taken off (no pun intended!). Over the last week I've been out looking at sites where I know that certain 'target' butterflies can normally be found, I was not disappointed!
Dark Green Fritillary (argynnis aglaja).......This large bright orange butterfly has a wingspan of around 63mm (2.5") and can be seen on the wing from June to August. The markings on the leading edge of the upper forewing appear to loosely resemble the figures 1338. However, it's the underside of the wings that give this butterfly it's name with their considerable shading of dark green scales.
The adult has a liking for purple flowers and nectars on most species of thistle. It can be found across most parts of the country in a wide variety of habitats...from unimproved grasslands to coastal areas (especially where the vegetation has been suppressed by sea spray). It's range however is being considerably reduced by modern farming practices.
These three images are of the male....the female is much duller in colour. unfortunately I didn't manage to capture any images of the one female that briefly flew by!
Silver-washed Fritillary (argynnis paphia).....This bright orange butterfly is slightly larger than the Dark Green Fritillary with a wingspan of around 72mm (just under 3") The male is a brighter orange than the female which has heavier markings and a greener hind wing. The forewings are slightly hooked at the outer edge giving the wing a concave profile (compared to the rounded edge of the other fritillary species)
The male has four prominent dark sex bands across the upper forewings. Again, it's the underwing that gives this butterfly it's name, with its diffused wash of mauve and green and four silver flashes.
This strong, sun loving, flyer can be seen soaring along woodland glades from mid June to late August often flying up and over the tops of the trees. The female can be seen flying low down around the bases of larger trees looking for crevices in which to lay her eggs.
The adult can be seen nectaring on its favourite Bramble flowers but will also use Buddleia and large thistles. It has also been known to 'sip' the moister from carrion, the mortar from house walls and the tar from roads. It's range extends across the Southern half of Britain from East Anglia to Wales and over to Ireland.
These images, again of the male (I didn't see a female!) are not that good as I had to shoot them over a tangle of brambles with the 100-400 lens at full stretch!!
Marbled White (melanargia galathea)....A misleading name for this butterfly as it is in fact a member of the family that is commonly known as 'The Browns'. However, its black and white markings make this butterfly easily recognisable. The males hind under wings are slightly tinged with yellow whereas in the female the yellow tinge is rather more pronounced. It has a wingspan of around 55mm (2 1/4") and can be seen on the wing from mid June to early August when it patrols up and down over rough grassy ground in fields or along wide woodland rides and also along roadside verges, it prefers areas of taller grass. It nectars on a variety of purple flowering plants such as scabious, thistles and knapweeds. It's range covers the area of chalk and limestone of southern Britain from Hampshire up through the midlands to Yorkshire and over to South Wales.