Thursday, 5 April 2012

Violets and Fritillary Butterflies

Photographed last week in Filnore Woods, these violets were blooming along the recently re-opened path through the Valley Woodland, between posts 8 and 11.  Although beautiful close to, they are easily overlooked. 

Violets are an important food plant for caterpillars of five of the Fritillary species of butterfly,  Most fritillaries are in decline, largely due to the decline in coppicing, but the Silver-washed Fritillary is doing well.  I have seen them gliding through glades in Lower Woods near Wickwar.  They are orange with black markings and quite dramatic in flight.  Perhaps if we encourage the violets with a bit more coppicing to let light into the woodland, we shall attract some of these impressive butterflies to our community woodland.  Experts are divided on whether they migrate to new woodlands or not.

This photograph of a silver-washed fritillary in Hatfield Forest,
from the Cambridge and Essex branch of Butterfly Conservation website

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