Male, rescued from road, Switzerland, July 2013 ('nominate' form)
Male, July 2011
Male, form eris,
June 2010, Switzerland
Female oviposturing on lichen (possibly laying), Switzerland, June 2006
The same female
Dark individual, Switzerland, July 2010
Underside of same individual
Val d'Aran, July 2005
This fritillary is common over much of its range but rather
my experience. It flies in a single brood from May (in the south) to
August over meadows, rough grassland, hillsides and open woodland.
The upperside is similar to that of the high brown fritillary,
except that the male has much weaker sex brands and the forewing outer
margins of both sexes are generally slightly convex rather than
concave. The third spot down in the submarginal series on the forewing
upperside is slightly displaced inwards, as in high brown but
distinguishing both species from dark green. The underside comes in two
chief forms, the so-called 'nominate' form and form eris.
This latter, which is actually commoner in the south, including
Switzerland, and the only form in much of Spain, has yellow
on the hindwing rather than silver. In both forms, the veins and
transverse lines on the underside hindwing are black, giving the
species a very characteristic appearance. There is also a white spot
near the base of the cell that normally contains a small black dot.
This is distinctive when present and not found in the high brown
Niobe fritillary caterpillars feed on violets, including dog violet and
sweet violet. Eggs are laid on dead vegetation in the summer and the
caterpillar waits within them till spring before hatching and beginning
to feed. I have seen a female (shown above) apparently laying on a
lichen-covered tree trunk, though as I didn't have time to search for
the eggs I don't know if any were actually laid.