Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris)
Species

Male. Taken at Daneway Banks, Glos, on June 25th 2016.
(1/250th sec at f13. Approx 3.5x lifesize)

Male underside. Taken at Daneway Banks, Glos, on June 25th 2016.
(1/125th sec at f14. Approx 3.5x lifesize)

Female. Taken at Aston Upthorpe Down, Oxon on July 21st 2013.
(1/125th sec at f10. Approx 3.5x lifesize)

Mating pair. Taken at Arnside Knott, Lancs, on July 3rd 2016.
(1/500th sec at f13. Approx 3x lifesize).

© David Hastings

Description

Wing span: 27 - 34 mm
 
This golden-coloured skipper is often found basking on vegetation, or making short buzzing flights among tall grass stems. Despite its name, it is not the smallest skipper found in the British Isles.
 
This butterfly is widespread in England and Wales, living in discrete colonies of both small and large populations. It is absent from Scotland and was first found in Ireland in 2005.
 
It inhabits rough grassland, where tall grasses grow, and may occur on roadside verges, beside hedgerows, on overgrown downland, in woodland clearings and along woodland rides.
 
Adults are on the wing between the middle of June and the beginning of August. The species over-winters as a larva.
 
The main larval foodplant is Yorkshire-fog, although other grasses are also used. Nectar sources include Thistles, Knapweeds, Ragwort, Vetches and Red Clover.
 
The male is distinguished from the female by the sex brand on its forewings, which is a slightly curved line of specialised scent scales. This species can be distinguished from the similar Essex Skipper by the orange undersides to the tips of its antennae (they are black in the Essex Skipper), and by the fact that the sex brand crosses at least one vein (it doesn't in the Essex). The female is harder to distinguish, but the dark marginal border on the fore wing is well-defined (it is more diffuse and extends into the veins in the Essex).
 
This species is listed as Least Concern in the latest Red List of British Butterflies (PDF).
 

Sightings

14-Aug-2016:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(1)
07-Aug-2016:Otmoor, Oxon(1)
06-Aug-2016:Fence Wood, Berks(1)
30-Jul-2016:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(19+)
23-Jul-2016:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(2)
11-Jul-2016:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(1m)
03-Jul-2016:Arnside Knott, Cumbria(20+)
02-Jul-2016:Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria(1)
02-Jul-2016:Allithwaite Quarry, Cumbria(4)
26-Jun-2016:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(2+)
25-Jun-2016:Daneway Banks, Gloucs(3m)

16-Aug-2015:Pewsey Down, Wilts(2f)
08-Aug-2015:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(1)
02-Aug-2015:Otmoor, Oxon(9)
02-Aug-2015:Bernwood Meadows, Bucks(15+)
30-Jul-2015:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(20+)
25-Jul-2015:Nr Dobrinishte, Bulgaria
20-Jul-2015:nr Samokov, Bulgaria
18-Jul-2015:Crookham Common, Berks(1m)
11-Jul-2015:The Holies, Berks(30+)
11-Jul-2015:Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon(30+)
04-Jul-2015:Calvert Jubilee, Oxon(3)
03-Jul-2015:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(1)
02-Jul-2015:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(7)

03-Aug-2014:Otmoor, Oxon(1)
31-Jul-2014:Myers Allotment, Lancashire(2)
30-Jul-2014:Arnside Knott, Cumbria(2)
29-Jul-2014:Smardale Gill NNR, Cumbria(10+)
26-Jul-2014:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(20+)
20-Jul-2014:Finemere Wood, Bucks(40+)
20-Jul-2014:Otmoor, Oxon(5)
12-Jul-2014:Watlington Hill, Oxon(20+)
12-Jul-2014:Homefield Wood, Bucks(30+)
06-Jul-2014:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(10)
06-Jul-2014:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(20+)
06-Jul-2014:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(2)
30-Jun-2014:Tophill Low, E. Yorks(2)
28-Jun-2014:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(6)
23-Jun-2014:Trigrad Gorge, Bulgaria
22-Jun-2014:Roadside, Bulgaria
20-Jun-2014:Arda River, Bulgaria
19-Jun-2014:Momchilgrad, Bulgaria

11-Aug-2013:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(1m)
10-Aug-2013:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(2)
28-Jul-2013:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(8)
28-Jul-2013:Whitecross Green Wood, Oxon(4)
27-Jul-2013:Allotment, Abingdon, Oxon(1m)
24-Jul-2013:Homefield Wood, Bucks(2)
21-Jul-2013:Aston Upthorpe Downs, Oxon(12+)
14-Jul-2013:Dry Sandford Pit, Oxon(10m,2f)
13-Jul-2013:Otmoor, Oxon(6)
13-Jul-2013:Bernwood Forest, Bucks(2)
13-Jul-2013:Bernwood Meadows, Bucks(2)
08-Jul-2013:Daneway Banks, Gloucs(1)
07-Jul-2013:Aston Rowant NNR, Oxon(1m)