Dingy Skipper

  • Dingy Skipper (upperwing)
    Dingy Skipper (upperwing)
  • Dingy Skipper (male & female)
    Dingy Skipper (male & female)
  • Dingy Skipper (egg)
    Dingy Skipper (egg)
  • Dingy Skipper (upperwing)
    Dingy Skipper (upperwing)
  • Dingy Skipper (male & female)
    Dingy Skipper (male & female)
  • Dingy Skipper (egg)
    Dingy Skipper (egg)

Scientific name: Erynnis tages

Moth-like in appearance, this small brown and grey butterfly is extremely well camouflaged on the bare ground on which it like to bask.

Found in Britain and Ireland but becoming increasingly rare. Grey-brown wings with mottled brown markings and two rows of small white spots. A small butterfly with low, darting flight. Grizzled Skipper is similar in size but has brighter black and white markings.

In sunshine, the Dingy Skipper often basks on bare ground with wings spread wide. In dull weather, and at night, it perches on the tops of dead flowerheads in a moth-like fashion with wings curved in a position not seen in any other British butterfly. This small brown and grey butterfly is extremely well camouflaged. It may be confused with the Grizzled Skipper, the Mother Shipton moth and Burnet Companion moth, which sometimes occur on the same sites at the same time.

The Dingy Skipper is locally distributed throughout Britain and Ireland, but has declined seriously in recent years.

Size and Family

  • Family – Skippers
  • Small Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 29mm

Conservation status

  • Listed as a Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in England
  • Listed as a Section 42 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in Wales
  • Classified as a Northern Ireland Priority Species by the NIEA
  • Protected under the Nature Conservation Act in Scotland
  • UK BAP status: Priority Species
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High              
  • European status: Not threatened               

Caterpillar Foodplants

Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is the usual foodplant in all habitats. Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) is also used on calcareous soils, and Greater Bird’s-foot-trefoil (L. pedunculatus) is used on heavier soils.

Distribution

  • Countries – England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland
  • Found throughout Britain, but in Scotland it is very restricted and found mainly on the coasts in the far south and in the Moray Firth area in the north.
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = Britain: -48%

Habitat

Colonies occur in a wide range of open, sunny habitats including chalk downland, woodland rides and clearings, coastal habitats such as dunes and undercliffs, heathland, old quarries, railway lines and waste ground.

Suitable conditions occur where foodplants grow in a sparse sward, often with patches of bare ground in a sunny, sheltered situation. Taller vegetation is also required for shelter and roosting. 

Factsheets

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