Northern brown argus Aricia artaxerxes

Northern brown argus butterflies occur in small colonies of less than fifty individuals and the females have only one brood a year. Northern brown argus’ are dark brown in colour with several orange crescents towards the edges of the wings. These crescents are small or absent on the forewings, which have a white spot in the centre of the upperside and have pale undersides.


The Northern brown argus’ preferred habitat is often where common rock-rose, the larval food source of choice, is found growing. This encourages the Northern brown argus to select alkaline ground, such as limestone, as habitat and can be found on south facing slopes and in hollows. Individuals roost communally and enjoy flying in warm sunshine.


Wingspan: 2-2.5cm


Listed as Vulnerable on the 2010 IUCN Red List and is a UKBAP priority species.


Found across Scotland.

When to see

June – August


  • For many years, this butterfly was thought to be a subspecies of brown argus. It is has since been discovered to be a separate species and has been shown to have a different flight time and different number of broods.

Common name

Northern brown argus

Species name

Aricia artaxerxes

IUCN Red List status


When to see in Scotland

June – August

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Bawsinch & Duddingston or East Lammermuir Deans

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