Lepidoptera The Queen Of Spain Fritillary Butterfly – Argynnis Latona
We now pass from the commonest to the rarest and most prized of our wood butterflies-The Queen of Spain (Plate II, fig. 7). This royal personage is not easily mistaken for any of the meaner Fritillaries even when the upper surface only is examined, as the concave hind margins of the fore wings serve as an almost conclusive mark of distinction. The rich tawny brown of this side is boldly marked with black, and the long hairs and scales of the bases of the wings are tinged with green.
The under side presents a most beautiful appearance. Here the ground colour is paler than that of the upper side. The fore wings are spotted with black, and have a few small patches of silver at the tips. Each hind wing has no fewer than twenty-four bright silvery spots. Seven of these, mostly of large size, adorn the hind margin, and above each of these is a small one in the middle of a little patch of dark brown. The arrangement of the others is not quite so easily described, but may be readily made out from our illustration.
This rare gem among British butterflies has been taken in many localities, but in very small numbers. Seeing that it is a common insect on the other side of the Channel, and that the British captures have been made chiefly in the Isle of Wight and on the south coast, I am inclined to believe that many of the highly valued genuine Britishers have no right to their title, but are visitors that have spent only a few days within our shores, having flown or been blown across the sea.
It is not likely that many of my readers will ever meet with Latona during their rambles in our own country, and if they are anxious to have the species represented in their collections, they will probably have to purchase either a British or a foreign specimen, the former of which will command a very high price, while the latter may be obtained for three or four pence.
The perfect insect may be looked for in August and September, during which time the eggs are laid on the leaves of violets and the heartsease (Viola canina, V. odorata, and V. tricolor).
The caterpillar is brown, with numerous yellowish spines, and has three whitish or yellowish stripes-one down the middle of the back and one along each side. It hybernates during the winter, and is fully grown in the following June or July. I hope that my reader will be so fortunate as to secure either this or some other stage of this rare and beautiful insect. The chances are decidedly against him, but that is no reason why he should abstain from a vigorous search when he happens to be ‘doing’ the southern counties.