What an absolute delight it was to see these beauties during my recent visit to Sussex, my second new butterfly sighting for the week!
My friend Jill can testify to the fact that I was grinning from ear to ear as we followed the Abbot’s Amble trail through Abbot’s Wood, a Forestry Commission site near Polegate, and were entertained at every sunlit spot by Silver-washed fritillaries (Argynnis paphia) flitting about the bracken, bramble, thistles and burdock.
With a wingspan between 7 and 8 cms, they’re large butterflies, and so very vibrant.
These are woodland butterflies, feeding on the flowers that grow along the edges of paths and trails in wooded areas. Apparently, they also lay their eggs on tree trunks, rather than on their caterpillar’s food plant. Once hatched, the caterpillars hibernate through the winter, awakening and descending to the forest floor come the springtime to feed on the leaves of violets.