Spanish Argus (Aricia morronensis)

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2020 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.



Principally an Iberian species, with very few small scattered colonies on the French side of the Pyrénées. It has a number of isolated and widely separated colonies in Spain, each of which is treated as a separate subspecies. The subspecies which occurs in the Pyrénées (both French and Spanish sides) is ordesae, identified in 1930 by Sagarra when the species was known as Aricia idas (a nomenclature no longer valid). Curiously, Higgins & Riley (1970) make no mention of the occurrence of this species in France or even of the various subspecies.


The larval hostplant in France is Erodium glandulosum (Black-eyed Heron's Bill), which is the only species of Erodium used by morronensis in France, although a number of species of this plant genus occur in Spain and are used by morronensis.


I was shown one site in the French Pyrénées by the local expert without whose assistance I would never have found it. By the time I arrived at this location, morronensis was clearly at the end of its flight period as 2015 was by all accounts an early season, and the only specimen seen was this rather worn male.


It was fairly evident on first sight that 39010 was not a Mountain Argus (A. artaxerxes). The cell spot on both upf and unf are very noticeably large and it is said to often have white edging. The only species it could possibly be confused with is artaxerxes but there are four defining characteristics for morronensis, in addition to the cell spot clue:

1) the ups orange lunules are vestigial or absent

2) the fringes are significantly chequered (albeit rather hard to use this clue on 39010)

3) the unf post-discal black spots are very bold, to a noticeably greater extent than on the unh

4) the unf post-discal black spots in s6 and particularly in s7 are displaced basally to a significantly greater degree than for artaxerxes.




alt. m



a male, clearly at the end of its flight period and showing strong signs of wear. 38950 is the underside.




a male, the underside of 39010.