Skippers (Hesperiidae)
Known commonly as "skippers" because of their rapid flight, these moth-like butterflies are split in to three sub-families, the Pyrginae, the Heteropterinae and the Hesperiinae.
The Pyrginae tend to be a dull grey-brown colour with highly detailed wing patterns. They tend to hold their wings wide open when basking or folded forward, hugging a plant stem when roosting. They tend to be less widespread and often occur in discreet colonies.
The Hesperiinae tend to be golden brown in colour and hold their wings in a distinctive fashion. They are triangular in shape when viewed from above. The males tend to have an obvious sex brand on the upper forewing, making them easily distinguishable from the females of the same species.
The Heteropterinae are positioned between the other two sub-families.
Eight species have been recorded in Britain:
  • Chequered Skipper: confined to north-west Scotland
  • Dingy Skipper: fairly common in southern England, less so elsewhere
  • Essex Skipper: widespread in south-east England; spreading north and west
  • Grizzled Skipper: mainly found in southern England
  • Large Skipper: found throughout England and Wales
  • Lulworth Skipper: only found in south Dorset
  • Silver-spotted Skipper: only found on chalk grassland in southern England
  • Small Skipper: widespread in England and Wales