Dingy Skipper Butterfly - Erynnis tages

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

Dingy Skipper Butterfly

The Dingy Skipper is a versatile little butterfly, able to make itself at home in chalk downland, sand dunes, woodland edges and clearings, railway embankments, and all sorts of scrub and wasteland.


Male Dingy Skipper butterfly

Above: a male Dingy Skipper

This fast-flying grey-brown butterfly has a wingspan of 27 to 34mm. It spends much of the day basking on bare earth in bright sunlight or a rocks that have previously been heated by the sun. The adult butterflies nectar on Bird's-foot Trefoil, Buttercup and other yellow wildflowers.

Although very attractive when first they take to the wing, these butterflies soon lose wing scales and become more drab in appearance - hence the common name.

Adult Dingy Skipper with open wings

Above: a female Dingy Skipper


In Britain and Ireland this butterfly is widespread and fairly common, although its numbers have declined in recent years. Elsewhere, the Dingy Skipper is found in most parts of mainland Europe, and its range extends eastwards across much of Asia.


The main larval foodplant of the Dingy Skipper is Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus. The larvae feed through summer until August, sheltering in tents spun of leaves. In preparation for winter they create a larger tent within which they hibernate. In spring the fully-grown caterpillars pupate and eclode as adult butterflies from mid May until mid June.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Betty and Tony Rackham and by the Countryside Council for Wales.

Studying butterflies and moths...

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