The Lulworth Skipper is one of the smallest of our butterflies. It is restricted to the extreme south of Dorset where it can be found in large numbers along a stretch of coast centred on the village of Lulworth, where the species was first discovered in 1832.

The females can be distinguished from other skippers by the pale orange 'sun-ray' markings on their forewings whereas the males have darker-brown, almost olive coloured wings and a black line through the centre of the forewing. Darker than Small and Essex Skippers, neither of which has ray of pale spots. 

The range of the Lulworth Skipper has changed little in recent decades and it remains locally very abundant. In recent years the flight period of the Lulworth Skipper seems to have advanced significantly so that it can be encountered at any time from early June to mid-August.

Size and Family

  • Family: Skippers
  • Size: Small
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 25-27mm

Conservation Status

  • Section 41 species of principal importance under the NERC Act in England
  • UK BAP Status: Priority Species
  • Butterfly Conservation priority: High       
  • European status: Vulnerable         
  • Protected under Schedule 5 of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act (for sale only)

Caterpillar Foodplant

The butterfly breeds on tall patches of Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum).

Lifecycle

Habitat

Occurs on chalk grasslands in Dorset, including chalk downland, coastal grasslands and undercliffs. The butterfly occasionally uses grasslands on chalk clays and road verges where chalk or limestone ballast has been used in construction. The grass should be tall, as females perfer tall spikes of the foodplant (30-50cm) and never select foodplants under 10cm for egg laying. South-facing slopes and grasslands sheltered from winds are preferred.

Distribution

  • Countries: England
  • Only found in Dorset on the Coast from Burton Bradstock to Swanage and on chalk downland inland (such as the Purbeck Ridge and White Horse Hill). 
  • Distribution Trend Since 1970’s = -15%.

Lulworth Skipper (female) - Mark Searle

Lulworth Skipper (female)

Lulworth Skipper (underwing) - Mark Searle

Lulworth Skipper (underwing)

Lulworth Skipper - Bob Eade

Lulworth Skipper (upperwing)

Lulworth Skipper (male) - Rob Sol

Lulworth Skipper (male)

Lulworth Skipper (female) - Mark Searle

Lulworth Skipper (female)

Lulworth Skipper (female) - Mark Searle

Lulworth Skipper (female)

Lulworth Skipper - Garry Barlow

Lulworth Skipper

Lulworth Skipper - Steve Seal

Lulworth Skipper

Lulworth Skipper (eggs) - Andrew Cooper

Lulworth Skipper (eggs)

Lulworth Skipper (caterpillar) - Peter Eeles

Lulworth Skipper (caterpillar)

Lulworth Skipper (caterpillar) - Peter Eeles

Lulworth Skipper (caterpillar)

Lulworth Skipper (pupa) - Peter Eeles

Lulworth Skipper (pupa)