Side view of roange and green butterfly with white makings on hindwing and dark markings on forewing

Dark Green Fritillary. Photo: Ken Dolbear

The Dark Green Fritillary is on the increase in Dorset, which reflects the national trend.

Where to see

Habitat: Flower-rich unimproved grassland, often including some scrub, and on coastal cliffs and dunes. Occasionally in woodland rides and clearings.

Caterpillar foodplants: Violets, especially the Hairy and Common Dog violets in Dorset.

Best places: Found over a reasonable proportion of Dorset, though never in large numbers. Sites reporting good numbers are: Ballard Down, Bindon Hill, Fontmell Down and Melbury Down & Wood; it has been reported from Badbury Rings, which has good public access.

Distribution map

Explore the Atlas to see historical distribution trends for this species.

When to see

Mainly June, July and early August.

Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:

Sightings this year*:

Browse the sightings archive.


Size: Large

The Dark Green Fritillary could in theory be confused with the High Brown Fritillary but that butterfly is an endangered species in the UK and not found in Dorset.

This is a large butterfly: around the same size as the Peacock.

The sexes are similar, though the female upperwings are lighter, especially towards the margins. Both have upperwings with an orange background with numerous dark marks. Both have underwings which are flushed with green and a number of prominent silver discs including a row of white dashes around the edge.

Photo gallery

Tip: Click thumbnails to view full-size images.

*Note: The charts shown on this page are drawn only from casual sightings submitted to this website. Records from this website will be added to a lot more data collected throughout the year and used to compile the five-yearly Butterfly Atlases for Dorset and the UK.

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