Where to see
Habitat: Open/rough ground, clearings and roadside verges.
Caterpillar foodplants: Cocksfoot grass, Creeping Soft Grass
Best places: Widely found, but try Stour Valley, Alners Gorse, Hatch Pond (Poole) or Bindon Hill.
When to see
Possibly out by the end of June. July is its main period. Possibly going into August.
Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:
Sightings this year*:
The most reliable way to tell an Essex Skipper from a Small Skipper is by the black tips to its antennae: they must show a clear cut offs which are visible from the underside too. If the antennae are greyish, brown or patchy black, they are not Essex.
A less reliable feature is that with Essex Skippers the underside tips of the upper wings are usually orange like the rest of the wing. Small Skipper wing tips change to a muddy yellow which matches the colour of their hind wing underside.
The scent brand (the black slash) on the upper forewing of the male Essex Skipper is short, straight and parallel with the wing edge. The Small Skipper scent brand is long, thick, slightly curved and not parallel to the edge of the wing.
*Note: The charts shown on this page are drawn only from casual sightings submitted to this website. Records from this website will be added to a lot more data collected throughout the year and used to compile the five-yearly Butterfly Atlases for Dorset and the UK.