Small Skipper

Thymelicus sylvestris


The Small Skipper is a small, orange butterfly. Adults fly between June and August, feeding on knapweeds and thistles and hovering close to the ground. They can be found on rough grassland, woodland edges, sand dunes, along roadside verges and anywhere else with plenty of grasses. Small Skippers lay their eggs in grasses, close to the leaf node; the caterpillars feed on several common grasses, including Yorkshire Fog and Cock's-foot.

How to identify

The Small Skipper is russet-brown above, with a dark border and pale fringe to the wing edges. Smaller and plainer than the Large Skipper, it can be distinguished from the very similar Essex Skipper by the brown tips on its antennae - the Essex Skipper has black tips.

Where to find it

Found in England and Wales.


When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and woodland edge habitats sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of butterflies, including the Small Skipper. Careful grazing with traditional breeds, hay-cutting at the right time and scrub clearance are just some of the ways grasslands are kept in good condition - supporting invertebrates and, in turn, the larger animals that prey on them. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Species information

Common name
Small Skipper
Latin name
Thymelicus sylvestris
Butterflies and moths
Wingspan: 2.6-3cm
Conservation status