Lepidoptera The Silver-washed Fritillary Butterfly – Argynnis Paphia
This beautiful and noble butterfly is the largest of the Fritillaries, and the most powerful on the wing. During the latter part of June and throughout July it may be seen gracefully sweeping through the trees and undergrowth of woods, often settling down on a favourite flower for a short time. So strong is its flight that it is useless to attempt to pursue it for any distance. Sometimes it will sail along a wooded path, followed at short intervals by others of its species, and may be taken in the net as it passes. But perhaps the most successful method of netting Paphia is to wait till it has settled, and then secure it by a quick upward or side stroke of the net. If then you miss your aim, off it will dart, sailing over the tree tops till, in a very short time, it is quite out of sight.
The upper side of this butterfly is shown in
The under side is particularly rich in its decorations. The front wings are of the usual orange brown, chequered with black. The hind wings are partly brown and partly orange, and exhibit beautiful greenish reflections. They have also two bars of silver, and a silvery spot in the basal angle, all with rather indefinite outlines.
The female lays her eggs late in July on the food plants (Viola canina and V. odorata) or on the moss that surrounds them.
About two weeks later the young caterpillar is out and feeding; and then, after a few more weeks, while it is yet very small, it hides among the dead leaves at the roots. Early in the spring it resumes its feeding, and is full grown at the end of May.
The colour of the caterpillar (
The chrysalis (Plate VIII, fig. 9) is greyish, marked with metallic spots, and has a number of angular projections representing the spines of the larva.
Paphia is to be met with in woods in all parts of England and Wales. It has also been observed in Ireland, but is rarely seen in Scotland.