Large Skipper - Ochlodes venatus

Scientific Name: Ochlodes venatus (syn O. sylvanus). The genus name means 'turbulent' and refers to the way these territorial butterflies will suddenly dash about.

English Name: Large Skipper.

French Name: La Sylvaine.

5 Key Characters:
  • a little larger than the other tawny (fauve) skippers (forewings 14 - 17 mm long).
  • underside of the hindwing is a greenish yellow marked by indistinct pale spots.
  • upperside of the male tawny orange with a broad brown border.
  • male has a thick black sex mark (emitting pheromones) on the upperside of the forewing.
  • upperside of the female is brown with tawny spots and forewing bases.
Lookalikes: Silver-spotted Skipper Hesperia comma, which has much more obvious, clearly defined, shining white underside spots. Thymelicus spp, which are plain on the underside and a bit smaller.

Habitat: Hedges, forest fringes and wooded grassland.

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

Caterpillar: Small and green with a dark head, July - May, overwintering as a caterpillar.

Host Plant: Grasses (Flattened Meadow Grass Poa compressa, Wood Meadow Grass P. nemoralis, Tor Grass Brachypodium pinnatum, Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata, Purple Moor Grass Molinia caerulea).

Status: Very common, widespread and abundant but the population is declining. A Grassland Indicator Species (that is, a species which is monitored to provide information about the health and sustainability of natural grasslands). This is a conspicuous and easy to see butterfly in the Touraine Loire Valley and Brenne.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

All photos will be enlarged in a new window if you click on them. Row 1 left at La Croix-Sourd, near Chaumussay, June.

June 2015, on Baneberry Actaea spicata, La Bourgoterie (Chaumussay).

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