Small orange butterfly on a grass seedhead

Small Skipper. Photo: Lyn Lambert

Not actually the smallest Skipper in the UK! This butterfly is benefiting from the increasing temperatures of climate change, spreading further north and even getting just into Scotland.

Where to see

Habitat: Open/rough ground, clearings. Uses tall grass to breed.

Caterpillar foodplants: Yorkshire Fog grass and sometimes other grasses

Best places: Widespread.

Reported from the following locations last year*:

When to see

Mid June to mid August

Sightings by month (last 5 years)*:

Sightings this year*:


Notes

Size small.

Of the Skippers in Dorset the Small and the Essex have the plainest wings, without yellow spots, and look the most orange. The male is much more active than the female and can be distinguished from the female by its slightly curved scent mark on the upper forewing.

The Small Skipper can be difficult to tell apart from the Essex Skipper, but if you can see the underside of the tip of the antennae, the Essex is black with a very definite edge; the Small can be brown, greyish or even patchy black. If you are looking at a male, the sex brand on the Small is at an angle to the leading edge of the forewing, while on the Essex it is parallel.

Compared to the male Lulworth Skipper, it is more golden in colour.

Photo gallery

Click thumbnails to view larger images.

*Please 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.