Brown Argus butterfly sees positive effects of climate change

June 2, 2008,

The Brown Argus butterfly Aricia agestis has expanded northwards in Britain during the last 30 years. It is thought that the recent expansion of the species is due to the increasing summer temperatures caused by global warming.

Research carried out by scientists in the UK and Spain reveals that by moving into new areas, the Brown Argus may be escaping from some of its 'natural enemies' (parasitoids).

This is not because natural enemies are absent from the new areas, but that the parasitoids are not able to locate the Brown Argus. Instead, the parasitoids rely on the common blue butterfly Polyommatus icarus in these northern habitats. This species has a long-established range throughout Britain and suffers a larger amount of parasitism than the Brown Argus in these northern habitats.

Although the researchers cannot yet say for certain why the Brown Argus has fewer parasites in its new range, they suggest it could be due to the differences between the plants that the caterpillars eat. The common blue and brown argus feed on different plants and therefore the parasitoids are used to looking for caterpillars on the common blue's favourite plants.

Dr Rosa Menendez said: "Climate change can have unpredicted consequences by altering the interaction between species and their enemies, whilst in this case the butterfly may be a welcome addition in other cases the release from enemies might favour pests or other unwanted species".

Full details of the Aricia agestis research is published in the June issue of Ecological Entomology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Royal Entomological Society.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Butterflies' evolutionary responses to warmer temperatures may compromise their ability to adapt to climate change

Related Stories

Gourmet butterflies speed north: study

May 24, 2012

A new study led by scientists in the Department of Biology at the University of York has shown how a butterfly has changed its diet, and consequently has sped northwards in response to climate change. Their study is published ...

Wet 2012 'catastrophic' for UK butterflies

March 26, 2013

Britain's butterflies suffered a "catastrophic" year in 2012 with almost all species declining as a result of torrential rains, according to a study published on Tuesday.

British butterfly is evolving to respond to climate change

November 30, 2011

As global temperatures rise and climatic zones move polewards, species will need to find different environments to prevent extinction. New research, published today in the journal Molecular Ecology, has revealed that climate ...

Recommended for you

Walking crystals may lead to new field of crystal robotics

February 23, 2018

Researchers have demonstrated that tiny micrometer-sized crystals—just barely visible to the human eye—can "walk" inchworm-style across the slide of a microscope. Other crystals are capable of different modes of locomotion ...

Researchers turn light upside down

February 23, 2018

Researchers from CIC nanoGUNE (San Sebastian, Spain) and collaborators have reported in Science the development of a so-called hyperbolic metasurface on which light propagates with completely reshaped wafefronts. This scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.