Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Boloria (Clossiana) selene


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Boloria selene

Male, France, August 2008

Boloria selene

Female, Val d'Aran, July 2011 (at 2300m)

Boloria selene

Val d'Aran, July 2011

Boloria selene

Male, French Jura, June 2008

Boloria selene

French Jura, June 2008

More or less normal colouration, here seen in Norway, some time in the early 90s.

This specimen from the Vosges has particularly dark, thick borders, as did all the small pearl-bordereds in the colony.

Boloria selene distribution


I see this widespread species surprisingly little. It is absent from East Anglia - the part of England I come from - and extremely local in Switzerland. I have seen it in France, Norway and the Spanish Pyrenees, and it is not regarded as a scarce butterfly, but I have embarrassingly poor shots of it. At low altitudes and in the warmer south, it flies in two broods, in May-June and July-September, while further north - in the UK, for example - it flies in a single brood from May to July. The female I show above, from the Pyrenees, was photographed at over 2400m at the tail end of July - so I'm not sure how much to trust the official phenologies! The species is found in a variety of habitats, from lowland forests to upland moorlands, provided only that there are violets for the larvae to feed on.

Although superficially similar to the pearl-bordered fritillary, the small pearl-bordered fritillary is in fact easy to identify. From the upperside, the narrow submarginal chevrons, fully joined to the border so as to enclose discrete spaces, are distinctive. In the male pearl-bordered fritillary, these are more like floating triangles, and in the female, while they may join the border, they are thicker and more triangular. In addition, s.2 of the forewing gives the impression of being emptier, with the post-discal mark relatively closer to the submarginal markings and the basal mark pressed against the cell. The underside is easier, however. The pearls around the edge are bordered internally by neat, black chevrons, rather than more diffuse, reddish ones and there are black post-discal spots further in - unlike the reddish post-discal spots in the pearl-bordered fritillary.

The small pearl-bordered fritillary hibernates as a larva in most of Europe, and as a pupa in parts of Scandinavia.