Belongs to: skippers

Compare with: large skipper

Small skipper Thymelicus sylvestris


Best time to see: Jul to mid Aug

Key facts

Small orange-brown skipper of rough grassland

Habitat: any sunny spot where wild grasses, and especially Yorkshire Fog, grow tall

Widely distributed throughout southern England and Wales

Recognition

Orange-brown upperwings with black veins and edges; tips of clubbed antennae are reddish-orange; wingspan 30 mm

Spend long periods perched with wings apart, interspersed with short, rapid flights from flower to flower

Essex skipper is almost identical except tips of antennae are black, as if dipped in ink

Lifecycle

Lays a row of pale yellow eggs in stems of rough grasses like Yorkshire Fog

Pale green caterpillars hibernate together, dispersing in spring to live alone in rolled grass stems

Turns into a chrysalis in May before emerging in June as an adult butterfly

  • Main photo
  • underside
  • mating

Photo © Tony Gunton

Photo © Ken King

Photo © Tony Gunton