Lulworth Skipper Butterfly - Thymelicus acteon

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

Lulworth Skipper, Thymelicus acteon

The Lulworth Skipper is a very small butterfly of calcareous downland and coastal grassland.


The male has a wingspan of 24 to 27mm, while the slightly larger females have wingspans of 25 to 28mm. The darkish dun-coloured wings are tinged with olive-brown - most noticeably so with the males. The forewings of females are marked with a circular 'sun-ray' pattern of golden marks. Where males have such markings they are duller and much more faint.

Lulworth Skipper, Portugal


In Britain this butterfly is limited to the Dorset coast. Its common name refers to Lulworth Cove, in Dorset, where the first British sighting was recorded in 1832. Elsewhere the Lulworth Skipper is common throughout much of central and southern Europe and in North Africa; its range extends eastwards across the Mediterranean and into the Middle East.

Lulworth Skipper, Algarve, Portugal


The larval foodplant of the Lulworth Skipper is tall patches of Tor-grass Brachypodium pinnatum. Female Lulworth Skippers lays their eggs inside grass sheathes during late July and August. The caterpillars emerge, spin a coccoon and then go into hibernation until late April. After eating its way out of the coccoon, the caterpillar feedsand grows until early June, when it pupates for about two weeks. The adults emerge in late July.

Small Skipper butterflies take nectar from many kinds of meadow wildflowers including Bird's-foot Trefoil, knapweeds (Knautia spp) and many other thistles.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Rob Petley-Jones.

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