Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae

Habitat

Grizzled Skippers are found in self-contained colonies in a variety of habitats in the south of the UK. Outside central southern England the species is now rare, and in the East Midlands is confined to a small number of scattered colonies in former industrial sites, generally on waste ground and sunny banks supporting sparse, scrambling vegetation, particularly disused railways, old quarries and spoil heaps. The decline is due to habitat loss resulting from changing patterns of land use, but it has been shown to respond well to conservation management.

Identification

It is the smallest of our skippers, and is a restless, energetic butterfly which is difficult to follow in flight. Easiest to identify when basking on bare ground or in sunny hollows, it has a pattern of white chequers on dark wings with black and white fringes.

Flight times

The Grizzled Skipper is a spring butterfly which is on the wing from late April until late June, occasionally flying from as early as late March on warm spring days.

Food plants

Eggs are laid on Wild Strawberry, but sometimes on Agrimony, Creeping Cinquefoil or Tormentil.


Distribution Maps

2005-2009
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2000-09
2010-14
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2010-14
2005-09 & 2010-14
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2005-09 & 2010-14

Comparison of years 2005-09 & 2010-14

There has been an expansion of its range over the last ten years, due in part to habitat restoration and conservation efforts.

2015
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 27
First sighting 26/04/2015
Last sighting 20/06/2015
2016
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2016
2016 Summary
No of tetrads 21
First sighting 04/05/2016
Last sighting 20/06/2016

Photo Gallery


Similar or Easily Confused Species and ID Hints

Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae

The Grizzled Skipper is a very small and distinctive butterfly, with a wingspan of a mere 26mm. It would be difficult to mistake this for any other butterfly species in the UK.

Although it is larger and lacking the distinctive checker board patterning, one possible confusion species may be a worn specimen of Mother Shipton moth.

Mother Shipton Callistege mi

The Mother Shipton is a small day flying Noctuidae moth that share similar grassland habitats and laval food plants to the Grizzled Skipper. It is slighlty larger than the Grizzled Skipper with a wingspan of 35mm

The striking wing markings resemble a caricature of the Yorkshire witch Old Mother Shipton. Its flight season is from May to June preferring sunny days.

Grizzled Skipper
Grizzled Skipper - © Simon Jenkins
image of aberrant Large Skipper
Mother Shipton - © Simon Jenkins