Mountain Argus (Aricia artaxerxes)

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2016 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

22903_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul10 12963_male_Valais, Switzerland_15Jul08 18191_male_Isère_12Jul09
17800_male_Hautes-Alpes_10Jul09 39164_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15 41341_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul16
17670_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09 12996_male_Valais, Switzerland_15Jul08 21512_male_Alpes-Maritimes_5Jul10
22029_male_Hautes-Alpes_12Jul10 22152_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul10 22527_male_Isère_17Jul10

Artaxerxes is very similar to the Brown Argus (A. agestis) although it occurs at higher altitudes where it can still co-exist with agestis. Artaxerxes is quite common at altitude, and often encountered in good numbers. The differences between artaxerxes and agestis are discussed on the agestis page. That Artaxerxes also has a slightly more pointed forewing apex than agestis is clearly apparent in most of the above photographs, perhaps best in 18191, although 21512 has a sufficiently rounded forewing margin to suggest the possibility of agestis.

 

As with agestis, the upperside lunules of the female artaxerxes are nearly always better developed and more extensive.

The nominate form of artaxerxes occurs in the UK where is known as the Northern Brown Argus. It occurs principally in Scotland where the upf discoidal spot is white, making the species very easy to identify. In the few sites in northern England, where artaxerxes is in decline, the discoidal spot is usually dark brown or black, although some (5-10% according to T&L) may be white or sometimes white-ringed.

In France, the subspecies allous occurs in the Pyrénées and high Alpes; it is generally small and the ups lunules are usually confined to the hindwing. The subspecies montensis occurs in the Basses Alpes as well as the mountain ranges of the Jura, Vosges and the Massif Central; it is generally larger and the underside ground colour light creamy-grey to creamy-brown with well developed orange lunules (there are some on this page that are clearly allous but have extensive orange lunules, though, e.g. 12996). I suspect all on this page are allous except maybe 22527.

ref sex

observations

alt. m
22903 M

very typical of artaxerxes.

2150
12963 M

weak uph lunules and only vestigial upf lunules in s2-4.

1700
18191 M

weak uph lunules and only vestigial upf lunules in s2-4. Does the lower altitude indicate that 18191 is montensis, even though it has the appearance of allous?

1120
17800 M

rather more than vestigial lunules, extending from s1-s4.

1890
39164 M from the Hautes-Pyrénées, perhaps with more extensive orange lunules. 1600
41341 M a male taking salts from the ground, as this species is an avid "puddler". This individual has very reduced orange marginal lunules, completely absent on the forewing and very vestigial on the hindwing. 1960
17670 M

a rather grey unf ground colour.

2100
12996 M

slightly dark shading to the unf lunules and generally darker and greyer unf ground colour.

1700
21512 M

rather rounded wings and extensive orange lunules, not typical artaxerxes (most here are clearly elongated in appearance) and I have my doubts as to whether this may be agestis, as indicated above.

1875
22029 M

puddling with many other blues, with a rather scruffy Small Blue (Cupido minimus) in the background.

2050
22152 M

a typical male.

2020
22527 M

a typical male, possibly montensis on the basis of the creamy brown ground colour and lower altitude.

1120

 

22903_male_Valais, Switzerland_22Jul10

 

12963_male_Valais, Switzerland_15Jul08

 

18191_male_Isère_12Jul09

 

17800_male_Hautes-Alpes_10Jul09

 

39164_male_Hautes-Pyrénées_24Jul15

 

41341_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul16

 

17670_male_Hautes-Alpes_09Jul09

 

12996_male_Valais, Switzerland_15Jul08

 

21512_male_Alpes-Maritimes_5Jul10

 

22029_male_Hautes-Alpes_12Jul10

 

22152_male_Hautes-Alpes_14Jul10

 

22527_male_Isère_17Jul10