Silver-washed Fritillary

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What is a Silver-washed fritillary?

The silver-washed fritillary is a characteristic species of well-managed open woodlands in high summer. It is a large, graceful orange butterfly with an intricate pattern of black spots and lines on the upperwings. The underside of the rear wing is washed lime-green and pink, with silvery streaks running across it. The male has four broad, black stripes across the forewings. In southern England, a small proportion of females have wings that are bronze-green, known as the form valezina. The adult butterflies fly from late June to early September, feeding on flowers such as bramble.

Why is the Silver-washed fritillary important to the Surrey Hills?

The silver-washed fritillary is a low conservation priority. It is found across southern England and Wales and throughout Ireland. It declined during the twentieth century but in recent decades has become more widespread with a range expansion of 56% since the 1970s.

What habitat does the Silver-washed fritillary like?


Woodland is important because it is one of our most complex habitats and as such, can support more wildlife than almost any other UK habitat. Ancient woodland which has been continuously wooded since at least 1600 AD is particularly important, but younger secondary woodlands and even conifer plantations can be important for nature if managed sympathetically.

What can be done to benefit the Silver-washed fritillary?

Good management for this species will create/result in well-managed open deciduous woodland with sunny, flowery rides and glades. Such woodland will also provide habitat opportunities for many other butterflies, for example, wood white, speckled wood, pearl-bordered fritillary and gatekeeper, as well as many moths and woodland songbirds.

Opportunities to create/improve/extend suitable habitat for this species include:
  • Creating and managing rides and glades
  • Thinning to encourage the development of the woodland shrub layer
  • Restoring/maintaining traditional coppicing rotations
  • Controlling deer


Creating and managing areas for the Silver-washed fritillary will help deliver the following benefits to communities:
  • Clean water
  • Clean air
  • Protection from and mitigation of environmental hazards
  • Mitigation of and adaptation to climate change
  • Thriving plants and wildlife
  • Beauty, heritage and engagement

These illustrations are by an artist taking part in a programme delivered by Watts Gallery Trust and funded by the Michael Varah Memorial Fund. This series of 30 Surrey Hills Indicator Species were commissioned by Surrey Hills Society and funded by Surrey Hills Trust Fund as part of the Making Space for Nature Exhibition.