British Wildlife Wiki

The Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages), is a butterfly of the Hesperiidae family.

Dingy skipper

dingy skipper, photo by K.Noble

Appearance, behaviour and distribution[]

This well camouflaged, brown and grey butterfly can be confused with the Grizzled Skipper, the Mother Shipton Moth or the Burnet Companion Moth. It is probably the most moth like British Butterfly and normally rests with its wings in a moth like fashion. It is widely but patchily distributed across Britain. It occurs further north than any other Skipper in Scotland with some isolated colonies in the Inverness region. It is also the only Skipper to be found in Ireland, again with a patchy distribution but the main strongholds along the western side. A variety of habitats are used including Chalk downland, Woodland clearings, coastal dunes, railway lines and even waste ground. It is widespread in Europe, east to Asia and China, though it is on the decline in several European countries including the UK.

Life cycle and food plants[]

The eggs are laid singly on the tender young leaves of Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus, the favoured foodplant (although Horseshoe Vetch Hippocrepis comosa and Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus pendunculatus are sometimes used). The caterpillar creates a shelter by spinning leaves together and feeds until fully grown in August. It then creates a larger tent to form a hibernaculum where it hibernates. Pupation occurs the following spring without further feeding. Adults are on the wing from mid-May till mid-June.