According to my Life Cycles of British & Irish Butterflies, William Lewin named this butterfly the ‘Brown blue’ in his 1795 publication The Papilios of Great Britain, but its current name comes from the earlier 1702 work Gazophylacium naturae et artis by James Pettiver, who gave it the name the ‘edg’d brown Argus’. The argus part of the Brown argus’s name comes from ‘the many-eyed shepherd of Greek mythology, which is a reference to the numerous spots on the butterfly’s underside’.
The beauties in my photos are from this year’s second generation of Brown argus, seen in two locations earlier this week. I only saw three of the first generation back in June as, like many local butterflies, their numbers were well down after a very wet spring. I’m hoping this second brood fares better.
I was interested, and just a little revolted, when I watched one of these Brown argus butterflies stocking up on nutrients, probably salts and amino acids, by slurping at a damp mixture of mud and horse pooh, an activity known as puddling or mud-puddling. Don’t try this at home!