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 checkerboard pattern on its wings.

The butterfly occurs across southern England, commonly in small colonies, and has declined in several regions.In Wales it is restricted to the south coast and post-industrial sites in the north east.

Size and Family

  • Family: Skippers
  • Size: Small
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 27mm

Conservation status

  • Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in England
  • Section 42 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in Wales
  • UK BAP: Priority Species    
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High                         
  • European status: Not threatened                     

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).



Three main types are used: woodland rides, glades, and clearings; unimproved grassland, especially chalk downland but also on other calcareous soils including clays; 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. 


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

Grizzled Skipper - Tamás Nestor

Grizzled Skipper

Grizzled Skipper (underwing) by Jim Asher

Grizzled Skipper (underwing)

Grizzled Skipper - Tamás Nestor

Grizzled Skipper

Grizzled Skipper (upperwing) - Andrew Cooper

Grizzled Skipper (upperwing)

Grizzled Skipper - Iain H Leach

Grizzled Skipper

Grizzled Skipper (egg) by Peter Eeles

Grizzled Skipper (egg)