Orange and brown butterfly with open wings on a leaf

Large Skipper female: note the lack of any scent markings (i.e. black line). Photo: Ken Dolbear

A common butterfly in the right habitat.

Where to see

Habitat: Open/rough ground, clearings

Caterpillar foodplants: Cocksfoot grass, False Brome grass

Best places: Widespread in rural areas with the right habitat

Distribution map

Explore the Atlas to see historical distribution trends for this species.

When to see

On the wing from the end of May, through June and July and into the very start of August

Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:

Sightings this year*:

Browse the sightings archive.


Size: Small

The Large Skipper is a little larger than the Small Skipper, though it can be difficult to judge in the field.

The Large is the only Skipper (other than the Dingy and Grizzled) which has mottled rather tan pure golden wings: both the upperside and the underside have the orange background colour broken up by a mixture of yellow dots and splodges.

The male, on its upper forewings has very pronounced scent marks, more pronounced than any other of our skippers. Do note that having a scent mark does not mean it has to be a Large Skipper – all the male Skippers (other than the Dingy and Grizzled) have them, it is just that the Large Skipper’s marks are particularly pronounced. Male Large Skippers have yellowish dots around the tip of the forewing.

The male Large Skipper is a very territorial butterfly, and if you disturb him from his favourite ‘perch’ on some long grass or bush he will nearly always return to the same spot. Other orange skippers do not have that behaviour.

The Large can also be identified by having hooks on the ends of its antennae: these show up well in the photo at the top of the page and the one by Penny Hawes below.

The Small Skipper is quite plain by comparison.

The female Lulworth Skipper can be superficially similar, though it is a lot smaller.

Confusion with the Silver-spotted Skipper is unlikely in Dorset, which only has a known colony on Fontmell Down in North Dorset.

Photo gallery

Tip: Click thumbnails to view full-size images.

*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.

Find more Large Skipper related content, including news and photos.