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False Heath Fritillary

Melitaea diamina

  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: True Brushfoots – Nymphalinae
  • Wing span: Medium-sized, 36–42 mm (1.4–1.64 in.). Females larger than males.
  • Wing upper side: Orangey yellow, with abundance of dark brown strips and veins. It could just as easily be described as brown with orangey yellow blotches.
  • Wing underside: Forewing orange with dark brown and light-coloured blotches. Basal part of hind wing orange with black-edged pale yellow blotches. Outside this are strips comprised of black-edged checks strips in the following order: pale yellow, white blotches shadowed by black, orange arcs with black spots, white arcs, and outermost part a thin yellow or orange strip.
  • Habitat: Damp meadows and bogs.
  • Flying time: Mid-June–early July.
  • Overwintering form: Caterpillar.
  • Larval foodplant: Valerians (Valeriana), e.g. common valerian (Valeriana officinalis).
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected in all of Finland.

The false heath fritillary can only be found in very limited areas in Häme and Ostrobothnia. It is noticeably dark compared to its close relatives, and it has no white or pale yellow strips on the upper side of its wings or rows of dots on the edge of the hind wing. The species can resemble dark individuals of the heath fritillary but they can be differentiated according to the patterns on the underside of the hind wing. The outermost strip on the false-heath fritillary’s wings are a darker yellow than the strip that runs alongside, which is composed of white arcs. Also, it has black blotches on the orange strips that are inside the white arcs. The heath fritillary’s outermost strips are the same colour and the orange strips beside them have no black blotches.

Females lay their eggs in bunches on the underside of the host plant’s leaves. The 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 group

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