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Queen of Spain Fritillary

Issoria lathonia

  • Family: Brushfooted Butterflies (Four-footed Butterflies) – Nymphalidae
  • Subfamily: Heliconians (Longwings) – Heliconiinae
  • Wing span: Medium-sized, 34–50 mm (1.33–1.95 in.). Females larger than males.
  • Wing upper side: Orange with black blotches.
  • Wing underside: Forewing orange with black blotches and several white blotches on leading edge of wing. Hind wing with extremely large shiny silver blotches. It has a row of reddish brown blotches with white centres inside the outermost row of pearl blotches.
  • Habitat: Abundantly-flowered meadows and rocky outcrops.
  • Flying time: Mid-May–mid-June, second generation mid-July–August. Third generation possible in warm summers. (Happens very rarely.)
  • Overwintering form: Caterpillar.
  • Larval foodplant: Violets and pansies (Viola) especially wild pansy (V. tricolor) and field pansy (V. arvensis).
  • Endangerment: Near threatened.

The Queen of Spain fritillary, which can be found rarely in southern and south-eastern Finland, can be differentiated from other Finnish Heliconians by its quite angular wings, the rare and quite round black blotches on the upper side of the wing and the number of large silvery blotches on the underside of the hind wing.

Males wait for females in their territories, which they defend on rocks, hills and open land like the sides of roads and paths. Females lay their eggs one at a time on violets. In Finland the Queen of Spain fritillary overwinters as a half-grown caterpillar, and they continue eating the violets in the spring as they grow to full size.

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