Large Skipper

  • Large Skipper (upperwing)
    Large Skipper (upperwing)
  • Large Skipper (underwing)
    Large Skipper (underwing)
  • Large Skipper (male & female)
    Large Skipper (male & female)
  • Large Skipper (egg)
    Large Skipper (egg)
  • Video play iconLarge Skipper (upperwing)
    Large Skipper (video)
  • Large Skipper (upperwing)
    Large Skipper (upperwing)
  • Large Skipper (underwing)
    Large Skipper (underwing)
  • Large Skipper (male & female)
    Large Skipper (male & female)
  • Large Skipper (egg)
    Large Skipper (egg)
  • Large Skipper (upperwing)
    Large Skipper (video)

Scientific name: Ochlodes sylvanus

A small widespread butterfly with a darting flight. Upperwings orange with brown margins with a few pale orange spots.

Male Large Skippers are most often found perching in a prominent, sunny position, usually on a large leaf at a boundary between taller and shorter vegetation, awaiting passing females. Females are less conspicuous, though both sexes may be seen feeding on flowers, Bramble being a favourite. Males have thick black line through centre of fore-wing. Undersides have faint orange spots unlike the bright silver spots in Silver-spotted Skipper. 

The presence of a faint chequered pattern on both sides of the wings distinguishes this species from the similar Small and Essex Skippers, which fly at the same time. The Large Skipper is widespread in southern Britain and its range has extended northwards in north-east England since the 1960s. 

Size and Family

  • Family – Skippers
  • Small Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 33-35mm

Conservation status

  • UK BAP status: Not listed      
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: Low             
  • European Status: Not threatened

Caterpillar Foodplant Description

Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and occasionally Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) and False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum) are used. Females have been observed laying eggs on Tor-grass (B. pinnatum) and Wood Small-reed (Calamagrostis epigejos).

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Present throughout England and in the Dumfries and Galloway area in Scotland. Not present in Ireland.
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -12%.

Habitat

This butterfly favours grassy areas, where foodplants grow in sheltered, often damp, situations and remain tall and uncut. It is found in a wide variety of habitats where there are shrubs, tall herbs, and grasses, for example; woodland rides and clearings, pastures, roadside verges, hedgerows, and wet heathland.

It is also a species of urban habitats, occurring in parks, churchyards, and other places with long grasses.

Factsheets

Similar species