This diminutive, feisty insect is one of Britain's most rapidly disappearing butterflies. Having all but vanished from a former habitat, woodland clearings, it is now found mainly on downland. It is the only representative in Britain of a huge butterfly family, the Riodinidae, or metalmarks, which in the tropics contains spectacular species. Although hardly spectacular, this orange and brown creature is prettily patterned and a very active flyer.
Larval food plants: The primula family - primroses in woods, cowslips on downland.
Where seen: Scattered colonies now mainly found on chalk downs in southern England and on limestone grassland further north.
Current conservation status: Giving great cause for concern. Decline of 35 per cent since 1979 from an already low base. Now thought to be fewer than 100 colonies in the whole country.Reuse content