Once widespread across the UK, this rare woodland butterfly is now highly threatened in England and Wales.
Its common name comes from the row of white dots or ‘pearls’ that run along the underside edge of its hindwing but, as one of the earliest butterflies to emerge in spring, it is also known as the April fritillary.
Fast ‘on the wing’, they are difficult to follow but can be found flying low or feeding on spring flowers, such as bugle, in sunny woodland clearings or around warm south-facing slopes of grass, bracken and scrub.
Violets are the sole foodplant of its caterpillars. Common Dog-violet is preferred, although it will use Heath Dog-Violet and Marsh Violet.
Why are they in trouble?
Changes in land management have been the main cause of the Pearl bordered fritillary’s drastic decline, particularly a loss of traditional woodland coppicing.
With coppice no longer wanted for industry, woodland areas have been replanted with faster growing trees or left unmanaged, reducing the amount of available habitat for the butterfly.
Insensitive woodland or land management and a further loss of habitat are still the main threat to remaining populations.
Decline in UK distribution since 1970s
How will we help this special species?
We need to understand more about the PBF in East Devon.
Based on previous data and sightings, we’ll be working with volunteers and local communities to survey and monitor the area looking for evidence of existing populations and habitats where as-yet undiscovered populations might be found.
We’ll also work with partners and local landowners to promote coppice woodland management and habitat enhancement, as well as running activities in our local communities to tell people about this special butterfly.
You may have noticed a flurry of messages this year, from all kinds of organisations and initiatives promoting the importance of planting more trees. This is more than just the latest social media trend calling for attention - it's a call for help in doing what we can...
More to Explore
We lead, partner and support projects that focus on a wide range of themes, including landscape and heritage, environmental quality and climate, biodiversity, recreation and tourism.