Small Skipper - Thymelicus sylvestris

Scientific Name: Thymelicus sylvestris. The genus name refers to the Thymelikos, the chorus in certain Greek plays, who skip about the stage before striking a pose, reminiscent of the characteristic flight of these skippers.

English Name: Small Skipper.

French Name: La Bande noire (='the black stripe') or l'Hespérie de la houque (='the soft grass skipper').

5 Key Characters:
  • the tips of the antennae are tawny orange (fauve) underneath.
  • males have a strong black linear sex mark (emitting pheromones) on the forewing.
  • small (forewings 13 - 15 mm long).
  • upperside tawny orange with a fine black border.
  • found in grassy places.
Lookalikes: The main difficulty is distinguishing this species from the Essex Skipper T. lineolus, which has black antennae tips underneath, a smaller, thinner and less obvious sex mark and a slightly broader black border. Other species of tawny skippers are also very similar in the field, but have pale spots (usually quite subtle).

Habitat: Open grassy places and grassy woodland.

Flight Period: May-June-July-August-September.

Caterpillar: Small, green, all year. Spins a cocoon and overwinters inside it.

Host Plant: Grasses (often Yorkshire Fog Holcus lanatus, sometimes Timothy Phleum pratense).

Status: Common, widely distributed and quite abundant.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

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