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East Midlands Branch Butterfly Conservation

Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola


The Essex Skipper is widespread in SE England, but is extending its range northwards. It is found in tall, dry grassland, roadside verges and woodland rides.


It is virtually identical to the Small Skipper, but the underside of the tips of the antennae are black in comparison with the orange tips of the Small Skipper. The dark borders on the female sometimes radiate along the veins, and the male has short, straight and finer sex brands.

Flight times

It appears later than the Small Skipper at the end of June and flies until the end of August.

Food plants

Eggs are laid in the sheaths of Cock's-foot, Tor-grass or Creeping Soft-grass.


Becoming more widely distribution throughout the region.

Essex Skipper - © Richard Rogers Essex Skipper

Distribution Maps for the East Midlands Region

Essex Skipper distribution map 2010
2010 Summary
No of tetrads 49
First sighting 21/06/2010
Last sighting 24/08/2010
Essex Skipper distribution map 2011
2011 Summary
No of tetrads 46
First sighting 15/06/2011
Last sighting 14/08/2011
Essex Skipper distribution map 2012
2012 Summary
No of tetrads 55
First sighting 03/07/2012
Last sighting 14/09/2012
Essex Skipper distribution map 2013
2013 Summary
No of tetrads 89
First sighting 26/06/2013
Last sighting 30/08/2013
Essex Skipper distribution map 2014
2014 Summary
No of tetrads 141
First sighting 18/05/2014
Last sighting 29/11/2014
Essex Skipper distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 157
First sighting 14/06/2015
Last sighting 12/09/2015
Essex Skipper distribution map 2005-09

Combined records for the five year period 2005-09

Essex Skipper distribution map 2010-14

Combined records for the five year period 2010-14

Essex Skipper distribution map comparison of 2005-09 & 2010-14

Comparison of years 2005-09 & 2010-14

Distribution has consolidated over this ten year period, with considerable expansion of its range into new areas.


Photo Gallery

Essex Skipper - Bennerleyr

Essex Skipper - Bennerley © Richard Rogers

Essex Skipper - Bennerley

Essex Skipper - Bennerley © Richard Rogers

Essex Skipper - Vicar Water

Essex Skipper - Vicar Water © Christine Maughan

Essex Skipper - Vicar Water

Essex Skipper - Vicar Water © Christine Maughan

Essex Skipper Essex Skipper Essex Skipper Essex Skipper
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Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

Small Skipper Thymelicus silvestris

The Small Skipper is very similar to the Essex Skipper in both looks, habitat and flight times. Though the adult Essex Skipper has a shorter flight time, starting later in June and continuing through until late August.

The most striking difference between the adults is the tips of the antennae: in the Small Skipper these are orange-brown, whereas the Essex Skipper's appear to have been dipped in black ink.

The males also differ in the size and shape of the “sex-brands” on the fore wings. In the Small Skipper these are slightly curved, in the Essex Skipper shorter and straight.

The caterpillars are also similar in body markings, but with the Small Skippers head being green and the Essex Skipper striped with brown.

Comparison of Small Skipper and Essex Skippers antennae
Comparison of Small Skipper and Essex Skipper antennae - © Mick Ball

Large Skipper Ochlodes venata

A larger and more widespread orange skipper, the Large Skipper also flies and feeds in similar habitats and times as the Small Skipper and Essex Skipper. All three skippers rest in a distinctive pose with their fore and hind wings held at different angles. The Large Skipper is distinguished from the others by being slightly larger, and also having brighter undersides and more variegated markings on the upper wings.

Large Skipper at Rest
Large Skipper - © Mark Searle
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