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Chequered Skipper Butterfly - Carterocephalus palaemon

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Lepidoptera - Family: Hesperiidae

Chequered Skipper Butterfly, Carterocephalus palaemon

Identification

The Chequered Skipper is a small (typical wingspan 30mm) fast-flying butterfly with distinctive golden-yellow spots on the wings, giving it a chequered appearance from which comes the common name.

Distribution

In Britain this butterfly is now confined to a relatively small region of western Scotland, having been declared extinct from its last outposts in central England in 1976. The Chequered Skipper also is found in parts of mainland Europe including the Alps (up to approximately 1600m above sea level), while several very similar species in the Carterocephalus genus occur in other parts of the world including the USA.

Chequered Skipper Butterfly, Carterocephalus palaemon underwing view

Lifecycle

The larval foodplants are grasses, including Purple Moor Grass Molinea caerulea. In Scotland the adult butterflies emerge in late May and can be seen on the wing through to about the middle of June. The pale green mature larve hibernate through the winter and pupate in early May.

Chequered Skipper Butterfly, Carterocephalus palaemon, on Bluebell

Chequered Skipper butterflies take nectar from many kinds of spring wildflowers including Bluebells, Dandelions and Early Marsh-orchids.

Acknowledgements

This page includes pictures kindly contributed by David Adamson.

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