Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris)

Male. Taken at Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon., on June 24th 2017.
(1/500th sec at f14 Approx 3.5x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Male underside. Taken at Daneway Banks, Glos, on June 25th 2016.
(1/125th sec at f14. Approx 3.5x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Female. Taken in Croatia on June 6th 2017.
(1/125th sec at f14. Approx 3.5x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Female underside. Taken in Croatia on June 6th 2017.
(1/250th sec at f14. Approx 3.5x lifesize. © David Hastings)

Mating pair. Taken at Arnside Knott, Cumbria, on July 3rd 2016.
(1/500th sec at f13. Approx 3.5x lifesize. © David Hastings)


Wing span: 27 - 34 mm

This golden-coloured skipper is often found basking on vegetation, or making short buzzing flights among tall grass stems. Despite its name, it is not the smallest skipper found in the British Isles.

This butterfly is widespread in England and Wales, living in discrete colonies of both small and large populations. It is absent from Scotland and was first found in Ireland in 2005.

It 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.

Adults are on the wing between the middle of June and the beginning of August. The species over-winters as a larva.

The main larval foodplant is Yorkshire-fog, although other grasses are also used.

Nectar sources include Thistles, Knapweeds, Ragwort, Vetches and Red Clover.

The male is distinguished from the female by the sex brand on its forewings, which is a slightly curved line of specialised scent scales. This species can be distinguished from the similar Essex Skipper by the orange undersides to the tips of its antennae (they are black in the Essex Skipper), and by the fact that the sex brand crosses at least one vein (it doesn't in the Essex). The female is harder to distinguish, but the dark marginal border on the fore wing is well-defined (it is more diffuse and extends into the veins in the Essex).

This species is of Least Concern on the UK list.


08-Aug-2019 : Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon (1)
04-Aug-2019 : Fence Wood, Berks (3)
03-Aug-2019 : Lid's Down, Oxon (5)
31-Jul-2019 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (3)
28-Jul-2019 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)
22-Jul-2019 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (1)
22-Jul-2019 : Otmoor, Oxon (5)
21-Jul-2019 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (7)
21-Jul-2019 : Watlington Hill, Oxon (2)
16-Jul-2019 : Ardley Quarry, Oxon (12+)
16-Jul-2019 : Bucknell Wood, Northants (7)
15-Jul-2019 : Lardon Chase, Berks (2)
12-Jul-2019 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (10+)
12-Jul-2019 : Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon (1)
11-Jul-2019 : Radley Lakes, Oxon (1)
10-Jul-2019 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (12)
08-Jul-2019 : Bernwood Meadows, Bucks (6)
08-Jul-2019 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (12)
08-Jul-2019 : Otmoor, Oxon (22)
04-Jul-2019 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (10+)
04-Jul-2019 : Parsonage Moor, Oxon (1)
03-Jul-2019 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (2)
30-Jun-2019 : Fence Wood, Berks (1)
29-Jun-2019 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (5)
28-Jun-2019 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (6)

06-Aug-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (1)
02-Aug-2018 : Lid's Down, Oxon (1)
24-Jul-2018 : Vercors Natural Park, France
23-Jul-2018 : Vercors Natural Park, France
22-Jul-2018 : Vercors Natural Park, France
21-Jul-2018 : Vercors Natural Park, France
20-Jul-2018 : Vercors Natural Park, France
19-Jul-2018 : Vercors Natural Park, France
14-Jul-2018 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (5)
14-Jul-2018 : Watlington Hill, Oxon (10)
12-Jul-2018 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (3)
10-Jul-2018 : Greenham Common, Berks (4)
10-Jul-2018 : Fence Wood, Berks (8)
09-Jul-2018 : Otmoor, Oxon (20+)
07-Jul-2018 : Besselsleigh Wood, Oxon (15+)
04-Jul-2018 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (35+)
02-Jul-2018 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (30+)
01-Jul-2018 : Fence Wood, Berks (20+)
28-Jun-2018 : Myers Allotment, Lancashire (1)
27-Jun-2018 : Gait Barrows NNR, Lancashire (8)
27-Jun-2018 : Arnside Knott, Cumbria (20+)
26-Jun-2018 : Latterbarrow, Cumbria (10)
25-Jun-2018 : Eskdale, Cumbria (2)

23-Jul-2017 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (7+)
18-Jul-2017 : Fence Wood, Berks (5)
18-Jul-2017 : Greenham Common, Berks (1)
08-Jul-2017 : Bayworth, Oxon (2+)
08-Jul-2017 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (2+)
02-Jul-2017 : Fence Wood, Berks (3)
02-Jul-2017 : Silchester Common, Hants (2)
01-Jul-2017 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (3+)
27-Jun-2017 : Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon (4+)
24-Jun-2017 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (6+)
09-Jun-2017 : Starigrad, Croatia
09-Jun-2017 : Paklenica National Park, Croatia
08-Jun-2017 : Paklenica National Park, Croatia
07-Jun-2017 : Rovanjska, Croatia
07-Jun-2017 : Starigrad, Croatia
06-Jun-2017 : Irinovac, Croatia

14-Aug-2016 : Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon (1)
07-Aug-2016 : Otmoor, Oxon (1)
06-Aug-2016 : Fence Wood, Berks (1)
30-Jul-2016 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (19+)
23-Jul-2016 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (2)
11-Jul-2016 : Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon (1m)
03-Jul-2016 : Arnside Knott, Cumbria (20+)
02-Jul-2016 : Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria (1)
02-Jul-2016 : Allithwaite Quarry, Cumbria (4)
26-Jun-2016 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (2+)
25-Jun-2016 : Daneway Banks, Gloucs (3m)

16-Aug-2015 : Pewsey Downs NNR, Wilts (2f)
08-Aug-2015 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (1)
02-Aug-2015 : Otmoor, Oxon (9)
02-Aug-2015 : Bernwood Meadows, Bucks (15+)
30-Jul-2015 : Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon (20+)
25-Jul-2015 : Nr Dobrinishte, Bulgaria
20-Jul-2015 : nr Samokov, Bulgaria
18-Jul-2015 : Crookham Common, Berks (1m)
11-Jul-2015 : The Holies, Berks (30+)
11-Jul-2015 : Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon (30+)
04-Jul-2015 : Calvert Jubilee, Bucks (3)
03-Jul-2015 : Bernwood Forest, Bucks (1)
02-Jul-2015 : Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon (7)