Grizzled Skipper

  • Grizzled Skipper (upperwing)
    Grizzled Skipper (upperwing)
  • Grizzled Skipper (underwing)
    Grizzled Skipper (underwing)
  • Grizzled Skipper (egg)
    Grizzled Skipper (egg)
  • Grizzled Skipper (upperwing)
    Grizzled Skipper (upperwing)
  • Grizzled Skipper (underwing)
    Grizzled Skipper (underwing)
  • Grizzled Skipper (egg)
    Grizzled Skipper (egg)

Scientific name: Pyrgus malvae

A small, springtime butterfly with a striking black and white appearance.

Found throughout England and Wales but becoming increasingly rare. Wings black or dark brown with checker-board of white spots. A small, low-flying, darting butterfly. Dingy Skipper similar in size but wings much duller.

The Grizzled Skipper is a characteristic spring butterfly of southern chalk downland and other sparsely vegetated habitats. Its rapid, buzzing flight can make it difficult to follow, but it stops regularly either to perch on a prominent twig or to feed on flowers such as Common Bird's-foot-trefoil or Bugle. It can then be identified quite easily by the black and white checkerboard pattern on its wings.

The butterfly occurs across southern England, commonly in small colonies, and has declined in several regions.

Size and Family

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

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
  • UK BAP: Priority Species    
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High                         
  • European status: Not threatened                     
  • Fully protected in Great Britain

Caterpillar Foodplants

A variety of plants from the Rosaceae family is used, mainly Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans) and Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca). It may also use Barren Strawberry (P. sterilis), Tormentil (P. erecta), Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor), Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Dog-rose (Rosa canina), and Wood Avens (Geum urbanum).

Distribution

  • Countries – England and Wales
  • Scattered and declining distribution across England and Wales
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -49%

Habitat

Three main types are used: woodland rides, glades, and clearings; unimproved grassland, especially chalk downland but also on other calcareous soils including clays; and recently abandoned industrial sites such as disused mineral workings, spoil heaps, railway lines and even rubbish tips. Occasionally, it breeds on heathland, damp grassland, and dunes. 

Factsheets

Similar species