Country Corner

Dark green fritillary
Dark green fritillary

I think it’s safe to say that 2013 is easily the best butterfly year since 2006.

It seems we get a summer every ten years or so nowadays!

This is a female Dark Green Fritillary.

Fritillaries are a tricky family to tell apart, all being orange brown with patterns of dark squares and spots.

However, in lowland
areas at least, our most common fritillary is this one.

When I say common, what I really mean is widespread but very scarce.

In fact, this one and a few of its colony cohorts are the first Dark Green Fritillaries I have ever photographed.

This is a large butterfly, with bright orange males, making them very obvious when patrolling for females and rival males.

Normally, only one or two single specimens are seen by a few enthusiasts most years.
Usually, these are fast-flying males which soar past, offering little more than a frustrating glimpse, with barely time to identify the species, far less photograph it.

This summer is different, however, with some good
colonies being found in rough grasslands.

Although usually seen sipping nectar from thistles, Dark Green Fritillaries lay their eggs on wild violets.

For this reason, like so many formerly common species, they are not found where herbicides and neatness abound. So take the chance to admire this beautiful creature.

No doubt a return to cold, wet summers will ensure a return to scarce sightings of this handsome butterfly for a few years to come.