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Marsh Fritillary. Photo DHardiman, 2004.
  © DHardiman   

Habitat:  The Marsh Fritillary is local, being most frequent west of the Shannon, in areas where its food plant Devil's-bit Scabious is plentiful.
It is single brooded.
Larval Food Plant:    
                               Devil's-bit Scabious  Succisa pratensis
Flight Time:      May to early July
Hibernation:   Overwinters as a larva.
The Marsh Fritillary is an Annex ll species under the Bern Convention.  It is considered to be vulnerable on a European scale. A considerable amount of it's Irish habitat has been lost through drainage and peat extraction.


Marsh Fritillary, Lullymore, Co Kildare, June '05

© DHardiman  



Life Cycle of  the Marsh Fritillary


The glossy pale-yellow spheres are flattened above and below and are c.0.8 mm in height. They are laid in  
batches of  up to several  hundred  on the underside of  large leaves of  the foodplant  in June and hatch within 
30-40 days. Egg clusters change their colour in time becoming a reddish-brown and eventually a 
purplish-brown  and can be fairly easily seen on the leaves.

Marsh Fritillary Ova, many changing to darker colour prior to hatching
               © DHardiman 2004


The fully fed larva can reach 30 mm in length.  The  body is black with short  branched black spines and 
has bands of white speckling on the dorsal surface and along the line of the spiracles.                       

Marsh Fritillary larvae emerging from web, Lullymore,March '05

Marsh Fritillary larvae emerging from web

  Late instar larva                  © DHardiman 2005

The head is black and the prolegs are reddish-brown .
From late June to August the gregarious young larvae spin a silk web on a couple of  leaves of  the foodplant under which
they live,  feed and moult. 
After the third moult they immediately go into hibernation after spinning themselves into a silken ball among 
vegetation, either close to or on the ground, where they overwinter.
But  they emerge to bask outside the web on sunny warm days in February and March returning to dormancy
in poorer  weather conditions.
They split into smaller groups as they grow larger  and are feeding alone by late April.  By the end of April 
they are fully grown and disperse to pupate.  This larval stage lasts c.10 months.


They pupate on stems and foliage suspended by a silk pad on which they attach their cremasteral hooks. 
Butterflies emerge in 16-26 days.

               © DHardiman 2002


The adults begin to emerge by the end of  May or early June and are on the wing until early July.  The male
survives an average of 4 days and the female 3 days.  During this time they feed, mate and the female 
lays her eggs.  The Marsh Fritillary keeps office hours,  flying from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.

               © DHardiman 2004




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 SmallTortoiseshell ] Peacock ] Pearl-borderedFritillary ] DarkGreenFritillary ] Silver-washedFritillary ] [ MarshFritillary ] 

Hesperidae ] Pieridae ] Lycaenidae ] Nymphalidae ] Satyridae ] Migrants ] .