Dingy skipper

Erynnis tages


This small butterfly has a moth-like appearance and a buzzing low darting flight style.  The caterpillar's preferred foodplant is common bird's-foot trefoil. On heavier ground it will eat horseshoe vetch or greater bird's-foot trefoil. In sunny weather it will bask on bare ground with open wings.

How to identify

Has dark grey brown upperwings with mottled brown markings. Underwings more reddish brown with 2 rows of white spots. May be confused with grizzled skipper, mother shipton moth or burnet companion moth, which may occur at the same time and place.

Where to find it

Wide range of open sunny habitats including chalk downland, woodland rides and clearings, heathlands and waste ground. Prefers combination of food plant and patches of open ground together with taller plants for shelter and roosting.


When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage our habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of butterflies, including the dingy skipper, which has undergone declines in some areas. We are also working closely with farmers, landowners and developers to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We have a vision of a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Dingy skipper
Latin name
Erynnis tages
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan 25mm
Conservation status
Increasingly rare having declined seriously in recent years. Is a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.