9 Jul 2014

9 July 14 - An interesting Silver-washed Fritillary

Off to the woods today to look for Butterflies. It was a great day out & there were plenty of good Butterflies on the wing, enjoying the sunny conditions. This was a site I hadn't visited before. It seems to be managed for Pheasant & Deer shooting, but this management has opened up the area, which had benefited a good selection of Butterflies.
There were plenty of wild flowers in this glade
Also plenty of coppicing to open up the forest
Opening up the woodland has created plenty of habitat for Silver-washed Fritillaries. This is the largest UK Fritillary & is a woodland species. It is a fairly common species in Dorset & great to see they are doing well.
Silver-washed Fritillary: Male. Easy to tell on the upperwing, by these 4 dark bars along the forewing. They are known as sex brands which are special scales used in courtship
Silver-washed Fritillary: Female. The upperwing has spotty & wavy patterns, but no dark bars 
Silver-washed Fritillary: Female. Sexed by upperwing markings before it closed it's wings
There is also a greenish form of females called Valesina where the orange-brown is replaced with olive-green. Apparently, this is most prevalent in the Southern English colonies. But I'm not sure what causes it or why is only seems to only occur in females.
Silver-washed Fritillary: Female.This one sparked some debate today as it wasn't thought to be a Valesina, but a scarcer variant. Note, the mauve wash to the hind wing. I didn't find this. I would have overlooked this as a Valesina so well done to Mike for spotting it
Silver-washed Fritillary: Female. Another view of the same individual, showing a bit of the under wing 
Silver-washed Fritillary: Valesina Female. Here is a normal Valesina from Alner's Gorse last year (20 July 13)
There were a number of other Butterfly species present including White Admirals, Peacocks, Red Admirals, Commas, Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns, Gatekeepers & Large Skippers.
Comma: The poor mans Fritillary. I wonder how many of these get mistaken for Fritillaries on brief views
Gatekeeper: The biggest sign of late Summer & early Autumn is here for me
I was a bit surprised to see this Slowworm crossing the main track. This looks like a small golden Snake, but it is a harmless legless Lizard. It is my favourite UK Repile.
Slowworm: A close up of the head
Black and Yellow Longhorn Beetle: I think this is Rutpela maculata