Small Skipper Butterfly - Thymelicus sylvestris

Small Skipper Butterfly - Thymelicus sylvestris (male)


Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Lepidoptera

Family: Hesperiidae

Subfamily: Hesperiinae

The Small Skipper is a butterfly of rough grassland, downland, woodland edges and clearings.


In Britain this butterfly is widespread in southern and central England and throughout Wales, with its range steadily extending northwards.

Elsewhere the Small Skipper is common throughout most of central and southern Europe and in the northern countries of Africa; its range extends eastwards across the Mediterranean and into the Middle East

Small Skipper Butterfly - Thymelicus sylvestris


The larval foodplants are grasses and nearly always Yorkshire Fog, Holcus lanatus.

Small Skippers lays their eggs inside grass sheathes during July and August. The caterpillars emerge and then go into hibernation until winter is over.

In spring the caterpillars begin feeding on grass, and when fully developed in early June they pupate in the bases of grass tussocks, emerging later in June as winged adults.

Small Skipper butterflies take nectar from many kinds of meadow wildflowers including the various knapweeds (Knautia spp) and many other thistles.

Picture left: Rob Petley-Jones

Studying butterflies and moths...

Small Skipper Butterfly - Thymelicus sylvestris

Left: Small Skipper photographed in southern England by Simon Harding.