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Skippers of the lower Adur Valley area, Sussex

Posted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 11:31 pm
by Perseus

Skippers of the lower Adur Valley area, Sussex

Small Skipper
Thymelicus sylvestris ... %20Skipper

The main food plant is Yorkshire-fog (Holcus lanatus). Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata), Creeping Soft-grass (Holcus mollis), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis) and Timothy (Phleum pratense) are also used.

This skipper is common on the Lancing Ring meadows (but variable frequency), frequent on the Mill Hill meadows and frequent on the Adur Levels (where the Essex Skipper also occurs), frequent on wasteland including the Malthouse Meadows. It is only occasional (or even scarce) on the pastures of Anchor Bottom.

I have not been able to correlate the grasses used. Cocksfoot is easy to recognise, but this does not fit areas of greatest prevalence.
Essex Skipper
Thymelicus lineola ... %20Skipper

The main food plant is Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata). Common Couch (Elytrigia repens), Creeping Soft-grass (Holcus mollis), False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis), Timothy (Phleum pratense) and Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) are also used.

Adur Observations:

As I cannot tell the difference on most occasions between the Essex and Small Skippers, I cannot comment anything definite.
The Essex Skipper appears to be present on the Adur Levels, but it has not been confirmed from the downs and other areas. The area inhabited was overgrown land next to a stream which is grazed ineffectively by Roe Deer. This was not grassland.

Large Skipper
Ochlodes sylvanus ... %20Skipper

The main food plant is Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata). False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea), Tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum) and Wood Small-reed (Calamagrostis epigejos) are also used.


Widespread and only occasional on all waste ground including the downs, but not on any of the pastures. A slight tendency to inhabit the longer grass meadows, but the numbers are too small to be slow. A possible correlation with Cocksfoot or False Brome, but not with Tor Grass. Mill Hill is the best location.


Grizzled Skipper
Pyrgus malvae ... %20Skipper

The main food plants are Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans) and Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca). Barren Strawberry (Potentilla sterilis), Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Dog-rose (Rosa canina), Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor), Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) and Wood Avens (Geum urbanum) are also used.

Adur Observations:

Very limited distribution and only occasionally seen with records from Mill Hill and the Slonk Hill Cutting, both ungrazed. Food plants are not known for Adur. Silverweed looks the most probable, but that is not on the list. It has not been recorded from the Lancing Ring meadows.


Dingy Skipper
Erynnis tages ... %20Skipper

The main food plant is Common Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) and Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) are also used.


This is an interesting study species as it is only present on Mill Hill on the lower and middle slopes where it is frequently seen in the first brood and only rarely in the second brood and the only other place it has been reported from is the Golding Barn area, Upper Beeding.

The food plant it uses is problematical as Bird's Foot Trefoil and Horseshoe Vetch are both abundant. Distribution of the adult skippers correlate mostly with the presence of Horseshoe Vetch. There are not enough of them to observe where the females lay their eggs. Mating always occurs in prime Horseshoe Vetch areas. This is short sward chalkhill, but even the upper meadows will be short sward early in the year so the height of the sward does not matter for the butterflies, but it will do for Horseshoe Vetch, which needs low fertility chalkhill.


Silver-spotted Skipper
Hesperia comma ... %20Skipper

The sole foodplant is Sheep's-fescue (Festuca ovina).

This grass occurs on Mill Hill, but this butterfly has not been recorded nowadays and there are no historical records for the Adur area.


Mill Hill 2007
Shoreham Bank 2007


Andy Horton
Adur Valley Nature Notes (including Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex)