The Scarce Fritillary occurs in clearings or forest fringes, where young ash trees are growing in open, mixed woodland or where nature-like fringe structures with abundant Ligustrum are present. The eggs are laid in one batch on a leaf of Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) or Aspen (Populus tremula), preferably at a height of 4 to 10 m. In continental mixed oak forests, Ligustrum vulgare is the most important initial food plant (eggs on 0, 5–1 m). The populations of the Carpathian basin and southeast Europe can use several Fraxinus species as larval foodplant. In lowland riverine gallery forests Fraxinus angustifolia is the most important one, while in white oak forests Fraxinus ornus is used for oviposition. The butterfly generally has a slow, gliding flight but can speed up when necessary. The caterpillars build a nest of silk and leaves and feed together at first, while still quite small. They go into hibernation, remaining in the nest, which usually falls to the ground onto the woodland floor. In spring, they leave the nest and separate, spreading out in search of food. They use a variety of larval foodplants at this stage, including honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), plantains (Plantago spp.), privets (Ligustrum spp.), Cow-wheat (Melampyrum spp.) or Speedwell (Veronica spp.). They pupate in the litter layer and on tree-trunks. The species has one generation a year, although in Northern Europe some of the caterpillars hibernate a second time before pupating. Habitats: broad-leaved deciduous forests (42%), mixed woodland (18%), alluvial and very wet forests and brush (7%), mesophile grasslands (7%), humid grasslands and tall herb communities (5%), tree lines, hedges, small woods, bocage, parkland dehesa (5%).
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