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Heath Fritillary

Melitaea athalia

  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: True Brushfoots – Nymphalinae
  • Wing span: (Small–)Medium-sized, 30–42 mm (1.17–1.64 in.).
  • Wing upper side: Orange with blackish brown strips and veins.
  • Wing underside: Forewing orange with black spots and blotches. Hind wing with pale yellow checks and row of orange arcs close to margin. Orange embroidery also at base side of wing. Both wing margins with narrow black-edged pale yellow strip and row of pale yellow arcs inside it.
  • Habitat: All kinds of habitats in open forests.
  • Flying time: Southern Finland mid-June–mid-July. Northern Finland early July.
  • Overwintering form: Caterpillar.
  • Larval foodplant: Cow-wheats (Melampyrum), ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and speedwells (Veronica).

The heath fritillary can be found almost all across Finland (except parts of Lapland and the east of the country). It is an orange–brown fritillary which has no pale yellow strips on the upper side of the wings or rows of spots in the hind wing margin. Dark individuals can resemble the false-heath fritillary, but they can be differentiated by the patterning on the underside of the hind wing. The outermost pale yellow strip on the heath fritillary’s wing is the same colour as the row of arcs on the inside, and the strip that is formed by the orange arcs has no black blotches. The outermost strip on false-heath fritillary’s wing is a darker yellow than the strip formed by white arcs alongside it. It also has black blotches in the orange strip that runs inside the white arcs.

Males fly around looking for females, who lay their eggs in bunches on the underside of the host plant’s leaves. Caterpillars live on the host plant in colonies in a cobweb nest, where they also overwinter.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same subfamily

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