Essex Biodiversity Project
Identification - The Heath fritillary (Mellicta athalia) is a small butterfly with distinct dusky wing colours and pattern. See photo.
General ecology - its main habitats are ancient woodland and coppiced areas. Its main food plants include Common Cow-wheat (Melampyrum pratense), Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and Germander speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys).
(Photo - Mark Iley)
In Essex there is no current loss or decline but factors that have affected its range in the past are loss of habitat, fragmentation and degradation of habitats.
Surveying tips - For a full survey methodology see the Butterfly Conservation recording scheme which uses regular transect recording. Please see the link below for more details and record forms.
Essex Biodiversity Project work - Work to improve habitat for Heath Fritillary has been carried out at Thrift Wood and Hadleigh Great Wood working with Southend Borough Council
Links - Butterfly Conservation