Small Skipper - Thymelicus sylvestris


This 'golden' Skipper is often found basking on vegetation, or making short buzzing flights among tall grass stems. Despite its name, the are four skipper species found in the British Isles that are either the same size or smaller than the Small Skipper. The male is distinguished from the female by the sex brand on its forewings, which is a slightly curved line of specialised scent scales.

Similar Species

The Essex Skipper looks very similar but has completely black tips to its antennae. With the Small Skipper, the tips are black on the dorsal surface and orange underneath. A good view of this feature is needed to distinguish the two. The Large Skipper can easily be distinguished by the dark mottling on its wings.

Identification difficulty

This species inhabits rough grassland, where tall grasses grow, and may occur on roadside verges, beside hedgerows, on overgrown downland, in woodland clearings and along woodland rides.

When to see it

Adults are on the wing in late June, through July and into August.

Life History

It has just one generation per year. The main food plant is Yorkshire-fog, a common grass in the British Isles, although other grasses are also used.

UK Status

This butterfly is widespread in southern Britain, living in discrete colonies of both small and large populations.

VC55 Status

Common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

57.006 BF1526

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map