Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae


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.


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

Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2000-09
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2010-14
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2015-19
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2005-19

This appears to show a consolidation in areas where conservation efforts have been concentrated in the east of the region, but also indicates a decline in N and W Nottinghamshire.

Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2015
2015 Summary
No of tetrads 27
First sighting 26/04/2015
Last sighting 20/06/2015
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2016
2016 Summary
No of tetrads 21
First sighting 04/05/2016
Last sighting 20/06/2016
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2017
2017 Summary
No of tetrads 20
First sighting 08/04/2017
Last sighting 02/07/2017
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2018
2018 Summary
No of tetrads 19
First sighting 01/05/2018
Last sighting 16/06/2018
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2019
2019 Summary
No of tetrads 28
First sighting 17/04/2019
Last sighting 28/06/2019
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2020
2020 Summary
No of tetrads 27
First sighting 23/04/2020
Last sighting 16/06/2020
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2021
2021 Summary
No of tetrads 25
First sighting 20/04/2021
Last sighting 16/06/2021
Grizzled Skipper distribution map 2022
2022 Summary
No of tetrads 25
First sighting 16/04/2022
Last sighting 25/06/2022

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