Chequered Skipper

  • Chequered Skipper (upperwing)
    Chequered Skipper (upperwing)
  • Chequered Skipper
    Chequered Skipper
  • Chequered Skipper (underwing)
    Chequered Skipper (underwing)
  • Chequered Skipper
    Chequered Skipper (video)

Scientific name: Carterocephalus palaemon

A small fast-flying butterfly, with beautiful gold and brown checked wings, confined to western Scotland.

This small, fast-flying butterfly is now restricted to damp grassy habitats in western Scotland. Males are seen more frequently than females, perching in sheltered positions either next to wood edges or amongst light scrub or bracken. They dart out to investigate passing objects, defending their territory against other males and other butterfly species, or in the hope of locating a potential mate. Females are less conspicuous and fly low among grasses when egg-laying.

The Chequered Skipper died out from England in 1976 and re-establishment trials have taken place since 1990. In Scotland, there are thought to be about ten core areas and there have been no obvious recent changes in range.

Size and Family

  • Family – Skippers
  • Small Sized 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) - 29-31mm

Conservation status

  • Protected under the Nature Conservation Act in Scotland
  • UK BAP: Priority Species    
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High                         
  • European status: Not threatened             
  • Protected In Great Britain for sale only

Caterpillar Foodplant Description

The main foodplant in Scotland is Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea). In England most records were on False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), though a range of grasses may have been used as they are in continental Europe.

Life Cycle 


In Scotland the butterfly breeds on open damp grassland, dominated by tall Purple Moor-grass. Favoured sites are on the edges of open broadleaved woodland as richer soils produce a lusher growth of the foodplant.

Former colonies in England occurred in woodland rides and glades, and occasionally in fens or ungrazed calcareous grassland amongst scrub. It may also have bred formerly in damp coppiced woodland as it does elsewhere in northern Europe.


  • Countries – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
  • Restricted to a small area of western Scotland. Formerly occurred in woodlands in eastern England but died out there in 1976.
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -38%

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