Bright orange-brown wings held with forewings angled above hind wings. Males have a thin black line through the centre of fore-wing. Essex Skipper is similar but has black tips to the antenna (best-viewed head-on) and shorter scent brand which runs parallel to forewing edge rather than angled.

Small Skippers are insects of high summer. Although they spend much of their time basking or resting among vegetation, they are marvellous flyers, manoeuvring expertly through tall grass stems. It is these darting flights, wings glinting golden-brown in the sunlight, that normally alert an observer to their presence. Closer examination will reveal many more individuals nectaring or basking with their wings held in the half-open posture distinctive of skipper butterflies. The butterfly is expanding its range into southern Scotland in recent years.

Size and Family

  • Family: Skippers
  • Size: Small 
  • Wing Span Range (male to female): 30mm

Caterpillar Foodplants

The Small Skipper almost exclusively uses Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus), although several other grasses have been recorded as foodplants, for example, Timothy (Phleum pratense), Creeping Soft-grass (H.mollis), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), and Cock’s-foot (Dactylis glomerata).



Prefers open places with long grass, such as unimproved rough grassland, downs, road verges, field edges and woodland glades.