High Weald

brown_argus A small butterfly, the Brown Argus, Plebeius agestis has brown wings with a row of orange spots. The adults have a silvery appearance as they fly low to the ground and they stop frequently either to perch or feed on flowers.

Until the 1980s it was characteristic of southern chalk and limestone grassland but over the last couple of decades it has begun to colonize a range of other habitats with disturbed soils such as heathlands, road verges, woodland clearings and grasslands.  Which makes it more likely to turn up in the High Weald AONB and this welcome recovery seems to be down to a number of factors including the European Union's Agricultural Policy requirement for set aside.  Set aside on farms left fallow for up to five years allowing Dove 's foot Cranesbill and Common Storksbill to develop vast populations which are occasional foodplants for the Brown Argus.

Both lowland heath and grassland are habitats which determine the character of the High Weald landscape. The Management Plan, written specially for the AONB, sets out targets (which encourage everyone) to enhance the ecological function of field and heath. Long term management of heathland and grassland – maintaining unimproved grasslands and heathland are needed to secure the future of butterflies such as the Brown Argus.

Look out for Brown Argus in High Weald meadows and heathlands such as Ashdown Forest