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Lesser Marbled Fritillary

Brenthis ino

  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies (Four-footed Butterflies) – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: Heliconians (Longwings) – Heliconiinae
  • Wing span: Medium-sized, 33–42 mm (1.23–1.64 in.). Females larger than males (and usually a little darker).
  • Wing upper side: Orange with black blotches.
  • Wing underside: Forewing orange with black blotches. Hind wing with brown-edged beige checks. Also with row of unclear, white-centred blotches surrounded by brown or sometimes violet shading. Shading with discernible white stripe.
  • Habitat: Bogs and damp meadows, especially waterside meadows where meadowsweet grows.
  • Flying time: Late June–early August.
  • Overwintering form: Caterpillar.
  • Larval foodplant: Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), dropwort (F. vulgaris), stone bramble (Rubus saxatilis) and e.g. rasberry (R. idaeus).

In a global context, the Brushfooted butterflies (Nymphalidae) are the biggest butterfly family with over 6,000 species. In Finland the family has around 60 representatives, which are nowadays usually divided into five subfamilies, of which the second-largest is the Heliconians. The other subfamilies are Admirals and relatives, Emperors, True brushfoots and Browns. Heliconians are sometimes divided into larger and smaller members of the family. As well as the lesser marbled fritillary, other large ones include Pallas’ fritillary, the Queen of Spain fritillary, the high brown fritillary, the dark green fritillary, the niobe fritillary and the silver-washed fritillary.

The lesser marbled fritillary is common in southern and central Finland and can be seen aslo in southern Lapland. The species can be differentiated from other Heliconians by its patterning, specifically (1) the way the blotches on the upper side form a narrow, discontinuous stripe above the thicker edging stripe, and (2) the underside of the wing has a row of white-centred blotches surrounded by brown or violet shading. It lacks any silver blotches. Females lay their eggs individually deep in the grass on the host plant’s leaves.

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