Tuesday 18 June
Silver-studded blue (Plebeius argus)
Silver-studded blue fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
Silver-studded blue description
Males are deep blue with a dark border and white fringe, and can be distinguished from other blue butterflies by the presence of a spur on the front legs (1). Females are brown, but both sexes possess metallic silver spots on the hindwings (3). The caterpillar grows to 1.3 centimetres in length, and is green in colour with a dark stripe along the back, and white stripes along the sides (4).
- Plebejus argus.
- Wingspan: 2 - 2.3 cm (1)
- Butterfly Conservation:
- Butterfly Conservation's Species Action Plan:
- Asher, J., Warren, M., Fox, R., Harding, P., Jeffcoate, G., and Jeffcoate, S. (2001) The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Containing free calcium carbonate, chalky.
- A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- Stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce
- Of the stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- A contagious viral disease in rabbits.
- Stage in an insect's development when huge changes occur, which reorganise the larval form into the adult form. In butterflies the pupa is also called a chrysalis.
- Attempts to establish a native species back into an area where it previously occurred.
- Still, J. (1996) Collins Wild Guide: Butterflies and Moths of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
- UKBAP Species Action Plan (March, 2002)
- Asher, J., Warren, M., Fox, R., Harding, P., Jeffcoate, G. and Jeffcoate, S. (2001) The Millennium Atlas of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Carter, D.J. and Hargreaves, B. (1986) A Field Guide to Caterpillars of Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Collins, London.
- Ravenscroft, N.O.M. and Warren, M.S. (1996) Species Action Plan: silver-studded blue, Plebejus argus. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham. Available at:
- Butterfly Conservation, Bulman, C. (2002) Pers. comm.
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
Silver-studded blue biology
The adult flight period occurs between July and August on heathland and between June and mid-July on calcareous grasslands. There is a single brood a year; eggs are laid singly near the ground where they overwinter. The following spring the larvae hatch, soon after hatching they are closely tended by ants of the genus Lasius which are attracted by sugar-rich secretions produced by the caterpillar, and provide protection against predators. Pupation usually occurs in or near to ant nests, and the pupa continues to be protected by ants (5).Top
Silver-studded blue range
The silver-studded blue is widespread in temperate areas of Europe and Asia (3), but underwent a severe decline in Great Britain during the twentieth century (2). It has become extinct in most northern and central areas, parts of Wales and the North Downs. It is now largely restricted to heathland in Dorset and Hampshire (2), with a few populations in Wales, Suffolk, Norfolk Cornwall and Shropshire (5).Top
Silver-studded blue habitat
Found in lowland heathland, chalk grasslands, and some sand dunes. In all three habitats, the species needs short vegetation and ants of the genus Lasius (2). A supply of the main larval foodplants is also essential. These include a wide range of plants, the more common being heather, bell heather, cross-leaved heath and gorses on heathland, as well as common bird's foot trefoil, common rock-rose and horseshoe vetch on calcareous sites (3).Top
Silver-studded blue status
Protected by Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, with respect to sale only (2).Top
Silver-studded blue threats
A number of factors contributed to the decline of this species, including widespread loss and fragmentation of heathland due to agricultural intensification, forestry and development. There has been a 60 percent loss of heathland in Britain, and remaining fragments have often become degraded due to a decline in traditional management techniques. The introduction of myxomatosis during the 1950s resulted in a huge decline in rabbit grazing and a loss of short vegetation. Chalk grassland habitats greatly declined as a result (6).Top
Silver-studded blue conservation
The remaining heathlands in Britain are the focus of huge conservation effort. A number of key silver-studded blue populations occur in nature reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and candidate Special Areas of Conservation. There have been a number of re-introductions of this species, and English Nature has produced a booklet on its conservation in lowland heathland (2). The silver-studded blue is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2).Top
Find out more
For more information on the silver-studded blue see:
Information authenticated by Butterfly Conservation:
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.