Scientific Name: Melitaea didyma (syn Didymae formia didyma) Nymphalidae Nymphalinae.
English Name: Spotted Fritillary (Brush-footed Butterfly family, Fritillaries).
French Name: La Mélitée orangée (='orange fritillary').
5 Key Characters:
- underside of hing wings white with two irregular bands of orangey red.
- medium sized (40 - 50 mm wing tip to wing tip).
- males tawny red with reduced black markings.
- females very variable, tawny well marked with black, but often with a grey or brown wash.
- melanistic (black) specimens can be common in certain places.
Habitat: Poor meadows (prairies) and dry short grassland (pelouses).
Flight Period: April-May-June-July-August-September.
Caterpillar: Black with orangey red and white spikes and spots. Easily distinguished from other similar species by its orange (not black) head. Eats Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata especially but also Stiff Hedgenettle Stachys recta, sometimes Figwort family Scrofulariaceae eg Creeping Speedwell Veronica teucrium, Pale Toadflax Linaria repens, Foxglove Digitalis purpurea. Overwinters as a caterpillar.
Photographed by Loire Valley Nature: