Lepidoptera The Greasy Fritillary Butterfly – Melitaa Aurinia
Unlike the other Fritillaries, this species (Plate III, fig. 3) exhibits a variety of shades on the upper surface. A broad band of sienna brown stretches across each wing, near to and parallel with the hind margin. The other parts of the wings are marked with patches of sienna, orange, and yellow, separated by black lines and bands. The margins are all black, and inside the broader margin of the hind wing is a row of six very pale yellow spots. The broad sienna band of the hind wing is also divided by narrow black lines into seven parts, six of which have black centres.
The under surface of the fore wings has indefinite yellowish and tawny patches, which look as if they had been greased and smeared. The hind wings are marked with pale yellow and deep orange; a broad band of the latter, near the hind margin, is divided into segments, each of which has a yellow spot with black in the centre.
This is a very local insect, although it is widely distributed throughout England and Wales. It also occurs sparingly in Scotland and Ireland. Its food plants are the honeysuckle (Lonicera Periclymenum), devil’s-bit scabious (Scabiosa succisa), and the plantain (Plantago); and its chief resorts are damp meadows and marshy places, where these plants (more especially the scabious) abound.
The butterfly appears about the end of April or in June.
The caterpillars emerge from the eggs towards the end of the latter month, and always feed in groups under the cover of a silken web. Like the preceding species they hybernate during the winter, and commence feeding again in the spring. They are fully grown about the end of April.
In colour the caterpillar is velvety black, dotted with white, and its body is covered with short bristly spines. When fully fed it seeks the shelter of a curled leaf or dense herbage, suspends itself by the hind claspers to a silken carpet, and then changes to a creamy white chrysalis with black dots.