Arran Brown (Erebia ligea)

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2017 photographs highlighted in yellow. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.

17812_male?_Isère_11Jul09 44438_female_Alpes-Maritimes_17Jul17 8479_female_Haute-Savoie_23Jul07
22447_female_Isère_17Jul10 17811_male?_Isère_11Jul09 8466_female_Haute-Savoie_23Jul07

Ligea is a large Erebia and can be identified by the strongly chequered fringes (not very clear in 17812 above, as ageing can dull the contrast of the fringes), and the three large white-pupilled upf ocelli in s2, s4/5 (often fused in the female), plus possible ocelli of variable size in s3 and occasionally s1. It also has a wide red upf post-discal band of almost constant width from s2 to s6, tapering at s1. The lower end of the altitude range given by Lafranchis is 400m, although I have not encountered it below 1000m.


It could be confused with the probably erroneously-named (as I find ligea to be larger) Large Ringlet (E. euryale) where the euryale ocelli are usually blind, at least in the nominate form. The euryale subspecies adyte, which occurs in south eastern France and has white-pupilled ocelli and generally more chequered fringes, is more likely to be confused with ligea, where adyte occurs. However, the ligea unh has a clear white streak from the costa to s5, more pronounced in the female, which adyte has not.

This is another misnamed butterfly as there is no conclusive evidence that it ever occurred on the Isle of Arran, and it certainly does not now. Historically, some specimens from the 19th century purport to have been taken on Arran. As the specimens exist, it is unlikely they have been misidentified (the undersides would be definitive), but there may be doubt as to where they were taken. H&R casts doubt on the authenticity of these records, and Lionel Higgins was noted as being very rigorous in his approach. Lowland specimens of the Scotch Argus (E. aethiops), especially the female, can look remarkably like ligea. But the English names tend to stick, right or wrong, like Bath White, Camberwell Beauty, Essex Skipper, Lulworth Skipper, etc.
ref sex


alt. m
17812 M this is from the same small colony as 17811, so I have both an upperside and an underside to work on. I believe it is a male based on the body length and what is visible of the body shape, and the fact that the ocelli are not as pronounced (c.f. 8479, a known female). 1370
44438 F a female, rather pale with some loss of scales, but this seems to be a species that is difficult to photograph with open wings. 1550
8479 F

clearly a female based on body shape and the four huge upf post-discal ocelli with large clear white centres. The edges of the red post-discal bands on both wings are quite jagged.

22447 F

a female, from the same location as 17812. The ocelli are probably normal for female ligea.

17811 M

this semi-obscured shot through the grass does at least show the strong red-ringed ocelli which confirm ligea (compared to euryale) beyond any doubt.

8466 F

clearly a female, based on the length of the unh white mark, although it could be mistaken for euryale subspecies adyte (the white mark is much larger than that shown in T&L for ligea) except for the very well-developed unh ocelli which clearly point to ligea.