Scotch Argus

Scotch argus; one of many.
Scotch argus; one of many.

Not being hugely interested in butterflies until quite recently, I have spent the past five years in unappreciative ignorance of all the wealth and variety of species to be found on the Chayne. It was only when I bought an insect book in May that I began to pay any attention to the various different kinds of butterflies going around, and I have since revelled in the discovery of green hairstreaks, orange-tips, ringlets and green-veined whites.

Walking through some rough, wet ground yesterday, I was delighted to stir up swarms of sooty black butterflies; literally dozens with every footstep. Photographed, logged and identified by keenly thumbing through the book, I find that they are scotch argus butterflies, a species which was once widespread throughout Britain but which is now mainly restricted to Scotland. The caterpillars feed mainly on invasive purple moor grass, so I wish them the very best of luck. The name “argus” would presumably have something to do with Argus, the thousand eyed giant of Greek mythology who also gave his name to the Great Argus, one of the most extraordinary species of pheasants I have ever seen. The twinkling little eyes on the wings of the scotch argus provide a convenient hint to that effect.

A very satisfactory find.

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