Lepidoptera The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Butterfly – Argynnis Selene

The interesting group of butterflies known as the Fritillaries vary considerably in size, but are remarkably uniform in the ground colour of the wings, which, in all cases, is a rich golden or sienna brown; and this ground is chequered with darker colours in such a manner as to remind one of the petals of the wild flower known as the Snake’s Head or Fritillary-hence the popular name of the group.

The Small Pearl-bordered, our first example, is one of the lesser Fritillaries, and is shown in Butterfly ImagePlate II (fig. 5).

Butterfly Image The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary. Fig. 67.-The Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary-Under Side.

The arrangement of the black markings on the upper surface will be readily made out from the coloured plate, but the pattern of the under side will require a little special notice, for it is here, as with the other Fritillaries, that we find the chief marks by which we identify the species. On this side (fig. 67) the fore wings are light orange brown, with a patch of darker brown near the tips, and spotted with a dull black. The hind wings have the light brown displaced by a very warm chestnut tint, some yellow, and bright silvery spots.

Seven silvery spots of triangular form border the hind margin. A large one occupies the centre of the wing, and ten others are somewhat irregularly scattered over other parts of the wing-five between the central spot and the hind margin, and five between it and the costa.

All the spots on these wings, whether yellow, chestnut, or silver, are bordered by a narrow black line.

Selene is not a very abundant butterfly, but is widely distributed in England, and is also found in parts of Scotland. Its favourite resorts are clearings in woods, especially those of Kent and other southern counties.

It appears in May and June, in which latter month it deposits its eggs on the dog violet (Viola canina).

The caterpillar is not fully grown at the end of the summer, and hybernates during the winter among the roots of its food plant. In the following spring it emerges again, and feeds till May, when it changes to the chrysalis on a stem. It is less than an inch long when fully grown, and is of a dark-brown colour. Six rows of hairy spines are arranged longitudinally on its body.

The chrysalis is greyish brown, and has a number of very short projections corresponding with the spines of the caterpillar.