Scotch Argus

  • Scotch Argus (upperwing)
    Scotch Argus (upperwing)
  • Scotch Argus (underwing)
    Scotch Argus (underwing)
  • Scotch Argus (male & female)
    Scotch Argus (male & female)
  • Scotch Argus (caterpillar)
    Scotch Argus (caterpillar)
  • Video play iconScotch Argus (upperwing)
    Scotch Argus (video)
  • Scotch Argus (upperwing)
    Scotch Argus (upperwing)
  • Scotch Argus (underwing)
    Scotch Argus (underwing)
  • Scotch Argus (male & female)
    Scotch Argus (male & female)
  • Scotch Argus (caterpillar)
    Scotch Argus (caterpillar)
  • Scotch Argus (upperwing)
    Scotch Argus (video)

Scientific name: Erebia aethiops

Very dark brown with row of black eyespots with white centre on each wing. Eyespots are surrounded by orange.

As its name suggests, this butterfly is found predominantly in Scotland where it flies in tall, damp grassland. In sunshine, males fly almost without rest, weaving low through the grass in search of a mate. In poorer weather they perch on grass clumps, flying out to investigate any passing brown butterflies. The females are far less conspicuous and spend most of their time basking.

The Scotch Argus is common and widespread in Scotland but has declined in the southern part of its range, especially in England where it is reduced to just two isolated sites. 

Size and Family

  • Family – Browns
  • Medium Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 35-40mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP status: Not listed     
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low                          
  • European status: Near threatened

Caterpillar Foodplants

The main foodplant in Scotland is thought to be Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) and the populations in northern England use Blue Moor-grass (Sesleria caerulea). Though there are few observations from Britain, other grasses may be used, as they are in continental Europe.

Distribution

  • Countries – England and Scotland
  • Widespread in Scotland
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = Britain: -10%

Habitat

The Scotch Argus occurs in damp, acid or neutral grassland up to 500 m in montane regions of Scotland, and around the fringes of sheltered bogs, in woodland clearings, and young plantations.

In northern England it is now restricted to two sites that contain a mosaic of sheltered limestone grassland, scrub, and woodland. The butterfly is found only in tall grasslands that are lightly grazed or ungrazed.

Factsheets

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