Large Heath (Coenonympha tullia ssp. scotica)
Inverness-shire, June 2016
Found in the north of the British Isles, C. tullia is unique in that it is more or less confined to boggy habitats. It lives on the British mainland in isolated colonies from central Wales in the south to Orkney in the north, and also in scattered colonies throughout Ireland. It is absent from Shetland.
The eyespots on the underside vary considerably. Those in the north have almost no spots at all with adults looking very similar to a large Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus), while those in the south have very distinctive spots. This has given rise to three named subspecies. Those with the least distinct spots are referred to as ssp. scotica, those with the most distinct spots as ssp. davus and those that are intermediate as ssp. polydama. This species forms a typical cline and, unsurprisingly, intermediates occur between the three named forms. Subspecies scotica is found in northern Scotland, north of a line between the Clyde Isles in the west and North Aberdeenshire in the east. It is found in most of the western isles and is also present in Orkney. The primary larval foodplant is Hare's-tail Cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum). Common Cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium) and Jointed Rush (Juncus articulatus) are also used.
The two males pictured above are from Inverness-shire and were photographed early one morning during the biggest emergence of biting midges I have ever experienced - they got everywhere!