Found on mountain grassland in the Scottish Highlands and the English Lake District. A dark brown butterfly with row of black-centred orange eyespots on wings. Similar to Scotch Argus, which has white dots in the eyespots. Very hard to find due to the remoteness of many colonies and the vaguaries of the weather in the mountains of northern Britain.

The Mountain Ringlet is our only true montane species and is found on mountains above 350m amidst the spectacular scenery of the Scottish Highlands and the English Lake District.

The adults are highly active only in bright sunshine but can be disturbed from the ground even in quite dull weather. They keep low to the ground in short flights, pausing regularly to bask amongst grass tussocks or feed on the yellow flowers of Tormentil.

The butterfly's status is difficult to assess due to the remoteness and unpredictable weather of its mountain habitats, but its range appears stable.

Size and Family

  • Family – Browns
  • Medium Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 35-38mm

Conservation Status

  • Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC act in England
  • UK BAP status: Priority Species       
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High                 
  • European Status: Not threatened              
  • Protected under Schedule 5 of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act (for sale only)

    Caterpillar Foodplants

    The main foodplant is believed to be Mat-grass (Nardus stricta), but the full range is not known. Recent observations suggest a possible association with Sheep's-fescue (Festuca ovina).



    Adults usually use mountain grassland, often in damper areas around flushes dominated by sedges, but they can occur in drier areas characterised by Bilberry and Wavy Hair-grass.

    The butterfly mainly occurs at altitudes of 500-700m in the Lake District and 350-900m in Scotland.


    • Countries: England and Scotland
    • Restricted to the mountains of central Scotland and the Lake District
    • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -12%

    Mountain Ringlet (upperwing) by Peter Eeles

    Mountain Ringlet (upperwing)

    Mountain Ringlet (underwing) by Jim Asher

    Mountain Ringlet (underwing)