Lulworth Skipper

  • Lulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper
  • Lulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper
  • Lulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper
  • Video play iconLulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper (video)
  • Lulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper
  • Lulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper
  • Lulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper
  • Lulworth Skipper
    Lulworth Skipper (video)

Scientific name: Thymelicus acteon

Only found in south Dorset. Dull orange-brown wings held with forewings above hind wings.

The Lulworth Skipper is one of the smallest of our butterflies. It is restricted to the extreme south of Dorset where it can be found in large numbers along a stretch of coast centred on the village of Lulworth, where the species was first discovered in 1832.

The females can be distinguished from other skippers by the pale orange 'sun-ray' markings on their forewings whereas the males have darker-brown, almost olive coloured wings. Males have a black line through centre of the forewing while females have pale spots on forewing. Darker than Small and Essex Skippers, neither of which has ray of pale spots. 

The range of the Lulworth Skipper has changed little in recent decades and it remains locally very abundant.

Size and Family

  • Family – Skippers
  • Small Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 25-27mm

Conservation status

  • Listed as a Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in England
  • UK BAP Status: Priority Species
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High       
  • European status: Vulnerable         
  • Protected in Great Britain for sale only

Caterpillar Foodplant

The butterfly breeds on tall patches of Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum).

Distribution

  • Countries – England
  • Only found in Dorset
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -15%.

Habitat

Occurs on chalk grasslands in Dorset, including chalk downland, coastal grasslands and undercliffs. The butterfly occasionally uses grasslands on chalk clays and road verges where chalk or limestone ballast has been used in construction. The grass should be tall as females perfer tall foodplants (30-50cm) and never select foodplants under 10cm for egg laying. South-facing slopes and grasslands sheltered from onshore winds are preferred.

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