Grizzled Skipper Butterfly - Pyrgus malvae

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

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly

The Grizzled Skipper is a butterfly of chalk downland, scrubby dry grassland and occasionally also woodland edges and clearings.

Grizzled Skipper Butterfly


This is a very distinctive butterfly, easily identified (in the UK at least) by its black-and white (when young and fresh) or in older specimens brown-and-white chequerboard patterning on its wings.


In Britain this butterfly is widespread in southern England and coastal South Wales, but it is absent from Scotland and Ireland; it is far from common and is becoming increasingly scarce.

Elsewhere the Grizzled Skipper is found in central and most of southern Europe apart from the Mediterranean islands, and its range extends eastwards across Asia as far as China.


The larval foodplants are various members of the family Rosaceae, including Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca and Creeping Cinquefoil Potentilla reptans. Grizzled Skippers lays their eggs on the undersides of leaves of these plants in springtime. The caterpillars emerge and then pupate in August, and butterflies emerge the following April and May.

Grizzled Skipper butterflies take nectar from many kinds ofspring wildflowers including various kinds of buttercups, daisies, and violets as well as, Bird's-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus and Bugle Ajuga reptans.

Similar Species

On mainland Europe there are skipper butterfles with which the Grizzled Skippoer could easily be confused. One of these is Oberthür's Grizzled Skipper, pictured below:

Oberthur's Grizzled Skipper, Switzerland


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Betty and Tony Rackham.

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