Butterflies of Scotland
- Northern Brown Argus (Plebeius [Aricia] artaxerxes)

Graphics via Wikimedia

Previously considered to be just a subspecies of the Brown Argus, it is now regarded as a distinct species due to its different flight time, and having only one brood each year. It is also generally accepted that the species can be differentiated into two subspecies. The form artaxerxes, found only in Scotland, is coloured brown, with a row of orange spots on outer wing edges and it often has a white spot on the forewing. The pattern of wing spots is highly variable and many local sub-species have been described. The patterning on the underwing produces a silvery appearance as it flies low to the ground over sheltered flowery grasslands. It is mainly found in coastal areas of south Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway.

This small (wingspan is only 2.5cm / under 1") species is considered locally rare in Britain, and the UK has established a detailed Biodiversity Action Plan to conserve the Northern Brown Argus, along with a small number of other threatened butterfly species.

As far as is known, Common Rock-rose helianthemum nummularium seems to be the sole food plant in Britain. The larvae hibernate while still quite small and continue to feed and grow the following spring. Pupation takes place at ground level in late May and butterflies are on the wing from mid June to mid July.

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