Richard Fox’s Look Out For: Dingy Skipper

D Skipper

The small, moth-like Dingy Skipper is one of the first of our threatened butterfly species to emerge in the year.

Over the past decade, its flight period has usually started in mid-April but, like other butterflies, it is a few weeks later this spring due to the long, cold winter. Although much declined and officially classified as Vulnerable on the British Red List, the Dingy Skipper still occurs in each of the UK countries and in all regions of England, making it one of the more widespread of our threatened, habitat-specialist species.

Common Bird’s-foot-trefoil is the main caterpillar foodplant, but the butterfly requires particularly warm conditions and so is much less common than its host. Because of the need for warmth, Dingy Skipper colonies are usually found where the foodplants grow in sparse, short vegetation with lots of bare ground that heats up rapidly on sunny days. Typical habitats include chalk and limestone grassland, dunes and cliffs, heathland, woodland clearings and brownfield sites.

Although well camouflaged, Dingy Skippers are delightful, busy little butterflies with a buzzing flight. The thickened tips of the Dingy Skipper’s antennae are a useful way to distinguish it from similar-coloured day-flying moths such as the Burnet Companion, which have antennae tapering to a point.

Richard Fox

Surveys Manager

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