NZ3332 : Northern Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes)

taken 18 years ago, near to Bishop Middleham, County Durham, Great Britain

Northern Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes)
Northern Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes)
The Northern Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes) is a nationally scarce species whose range in the UK has declined. It is protected under Schedule 5 of The Wildlife & Countryside Act of 1981. It has declined in Northern England from 23% of its 10km squares since 1970.
There has always been confusion about the identity of this species and its distinction from the Brown Argus (Aricia agestis). The major distinction is in range, the Brown Argus being a southerner, and the Northern Brown Argus restricted to northern England and central and eastern Scotland. The Northern Brown Argus only has a single brood each year, while the Brown Argus commonly has two.
Two subspecies of the Northern Brown Argus are now recognised. Scottish populations of ssp. artaxerxes differ from the Brown Argus by its slightly reduced orange markings and a prominent white spot in the middle of the upper fore-wing NZ3332. The underside differs in having spots that are pure white or with only very small, central black spots. In County Durham and southern Tyne & Wear, ssp. salmacis can be found, locally known as the Durham or Castle Eden Argus. It differs from the Scottish subspecies in that the white upper fore-wing spot is absent or much reduced NZ3332 : Northern Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes), and has internal black spots within the white spots on the underside NZ3332 : Northern Brown Argus (Aricia artaxerxes). Yorkshire populations appear similar SD9673 : Northern Brown Argus ( Yorkshiremoths ) but some are considered to be single brooded populations of Brown Argus, further adding to the overall confusion.
In County Durham, the Northern Brown Argus is characteristic of the Magnesian Limestone grasslands found both along the coast NZ4346 : Grassland above the cliffs, and inland, in particular at disused quarry sites NZ3332 : Bishop Middleham Quarry.
The caterpillar food plant is the Common Rock-rose NO9192 : Common Rock-rose (Helianthemum nummularium) on which eggs are laid singly on the upper leaf surface and hatch after 1 week. The caterpillar is 1.3cm long, flattened and green in colour with a darker green line on each side. It hibernates over winter from October until the following spring. Like many of the species in family Lycaenidae (blues, coppers and hairstreaks) both it, and the pupa, found on the ground below the food plant, attract, and are protected by, association with ants.
In north England, the adult flies on warm sunny days from June to mid August. It may be one month or so later in north-east Scotland. Thyme NT1729 : Wild thyme, Bird's foot trefoil SE3169 : Birds Foot Trefoil, Quarry Moor nature reserve, Ripon and red clover TG3124 : Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) - detail are favoured nectar supplies.
Loss of habitat through both over- and under-grazing (by both rabbits and livestock), and grassland fires along the Durham coast are the main threats to its survival.
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NZ3332, 17 images   (more nearby search)
Photographer
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Date Taken
Friday, 25 June, 2004   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 24 March, 2009
Category
Butterfly   (more nearby)
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 331 327 [100m precision]
WGS84: 54:41.3172N 1:29.2370W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NZ 331 327
View Direction
West-southwest (about 247 degrees)
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