Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly - Argynnis paphia

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Lepidoptera - Family: Nymphalidae

Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly, Argynnis papohia - underside of wings, northern France

The Silver Washed Fritillary gets its name from the colouring of the undersides of its wings, which are decorated with large silvery streaks. This large fritillary, with distinctively pointed wings, is a strong flier; it loves sunny woodland glades, fire breaks and rides, although its breeding habitat is generally in shaded broadleaf woodland areas where its preferred larval food plant, the Dog Violet Viola riviniana, is most commonly found.

Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly, Argynnis papohia - underside of wings on Hemp Agrimony, France


In Britain the Silver Washed Fritillary is mainly concentrated in the south of England and Wales, while the further north you go beyond central England the less frequently these butterflies are likely to be seen. The mating pair shown on this page were photographed in the New Forest, in Hampshire, England.

Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly, Argynnis papohia - underside of wings, male and female

Elsewhere the range of the Silver Washed Fritillary is very wide, covering mainland Europe, northern Africa and much of Asia including Japan.

Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly, Argynnis papohia


In July and early August the Silver Washed Fritillaries lay their eggs generally in bark crevices of trees near to the larval foodplants, violets (Viola species) including, particularly on woodland edges, the Dog Violet Viola riviniana.

In August the eggs hatch and the larvae eat the empty eggshells and then go into hibernation until the following March. When they wake up, the caterpillars, which are black-brown with two yellow lines along their backs and a covering of long reddish-brown spines, drop to the woodland floor and feed on violet leaves until some time in May or early June (depending on altitude and longitude); then they pupate.

Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly, Argynnis papohia, Picture by CCW

Picture above courtesy of the Countryside Council for Wales

Adult Silver Washed Fritillaries take nectar from various woodland edge plants including brambles, thistle, and knapweeds; they also feed upon aphid honeydew.

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