Marsh Fritillary Euphydryas aurinia

Once widespread throughout Britain, the marsh fritillary has suffered dramatic decline, with a drop in numbers of 66% from 1990 to 2000. The wings have bright, highly variable markings consisting of bands of black and orange with paler orange spots. The wings are darker near the body.


This butterfly needs a supply of the plant devil’s bit scabious to feed its larvae, and good habitat will have an abundant supply of this. The marsh fritillary lives in areas of open grassland, chalky hillside, damp meadows and heathland. A number of colonies located close together form a larger population, and generally individuals do not move very far from where they first emerged as adults, unless they emerged late in the flight season.


Wingspan: 3.5-4.6cm


Nationally scarce in the UK and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is a UKBAP priority species.


Found in Western Scotland, Western England, Wales and many places in Ireland. Thought to be extinct in Eastern England.

When to see

May – July


  • Dispersal of marsh fritillary colonies can be easily stopped by an obstacle such as a hedge or a river. They thrive in grassland grazed by cattle and ponies, but not in sheep-grazed environments as sheep eat the larval food plant, devil’s bit scabious.

Common name

Marsh Fritillary

Species name

Euphydryas aurinia

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

May – July

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Shian wood or Ballachuan Hazelwood

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list Subscribe now

Back to top