Butterflies of Scotland
- Scotch Argus (Erebia aethiops)

Scotch Argus

The Scotch Argus is very dark brown with a row of black eyespots with white centre on each wing. The eyespots are surrounded by orange. As its name suggests, the main population of Scotch Argus is based in Scotland where it can be found in tall damp grassland, mainly in the north of the country, such as Fowlsheugh, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It can also be found in discrete colonies in west and south-west Scotland, including Dunbartonshire - hundreds can be found each year in Glen Douglas while the best sites in Argyll contain thousands. The most likely habitats are damp, lush, open grassland on a slope that receives mineral enrichment and is warmed by the full sun.

In sunny conditions, the male butterflies fly low among the grass in search of a female. In overcast conditions, they tend to perch on grass, flying only to investigate any passing brown butterflies which may be females. The females are encountered flying less often, preferring to spend most of their time basking.

The Scotch Argus can be found in Scotland in damp acid or neutral grassland. It flies from June to August. In Scotland the larval food plant is Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea). The hibernating larva is also reported to feed on Agrostis, Dactylis, Poa and other grasses.

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