Northern Brown Argus

Latin name: Aricia artaxerxes

Family: Lycaenidae

As its name suggests, the northern brown argus is brown in colour but also has rows of pretty and distinctive orange markings on the tips of its wings.

This species is one of only a few butterfly species that occurs primarily in the northern parts of the UK, mainly within Scotland, Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Durham.

Within the Yorkshire Dales the northern brown argus can be spotted in the limestone areas of the National Park from early June until mid-August. It favours sheltered areas of unimproved limestone grassland where the common rock rose, (which is an important food for the butterfly larvae), grows.

In 2002, a comprehensive survey of all known colonies in the Dales, along with visits to potential locations found 33 occupied sites. The key habitats for this species are in the Ribblesdale, Ingleborough, Wharfedale and Littondale areas of the National Park along with a number of small sites in other areas. In 2012, as a result of mapping suitable habitat within historical larval foodplant records we now have a better idea of other potential areas for this species.

At risk?

Monitoring work has shown that there have been declines in northern brown argus populations in other areas of northern England and Scotland. Monitoring projects in the Yorkshire Dales will help contribute to a better understanding of how this characteristic species is faring in northern England.

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There is a freshness and at times a undefineable fragrance to the air at high altitude in the Pennines. Joan E. Duncan & R.W.Robson

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