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Butterfly taxonomy (classification) The skippers The swallowtails The whites The hairstreaks, coppers and blues. Includes the Duke of Burgundy. The nymphalids, fritillaries and browns. Includes the Monarch.
3.7.2013 Large Skipper, male, Chiddingfold Wood, Surrey 075
Wingspan
Male: 29 - 34mm
Female: 31 - 36mm
Photo © hideandseek
Large Skipper

Ochlodes sylvanus
Number: 57.009
B&F No.: 1531
Family:Hesperiidae (Latreille, 1809)
Subfamily:Hesperiinae (Latreille, 1809)
Tribe: 
Genus:Ochlodes (Scudder, 1872)
Subgenus: 
Species:sylvanus (Esper, 1779)
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  Introduction  

This is one of the largest of our “golden” skippers and, like these other skippers, the male has a distinctive sex brand on its forewings containing specialised scent scales. Although this species forms discrete colonies, it is widespread and can be found in England and Wales as far north as Ayrshire in the west and North Northumberland in the east. This species is not found in Ireland or the Isle of Man, and is restricted to Jersey in the Channel Islands.

Taxonomy Notes

Verity (1919) considered the north European individuals, including those from the British Isles, to be a separate race due to the level of melanism exhibited. He named this race septentrionalis.

Ochlodes sylvanus

This species was first defined in Esper (1779) as shown here and as shown in this plate (type locality: Germany).


P1050309ad Male Large Skipper, 13/06/2012
Male
Photo © Pauline
Large Skipper male underside - Salcey Forest 20.06.2012
Male Underside
Photo © nfreem
Large Skipper Female - Chaldon, Surrey 12-June-10
Female
Photo © Vince Massimo
Large Skipper (female), (Ochlodes faunus), West Sussex (19 June 2012)
Female Underside
Photo © Mark Colvin

  Phenology  

The butterfly is on the wing in June and July, with some individuals being seen in August. There is one generation each year.


The chart(s) above have been correlated with the phenology plot below, taken from the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. The blue line gives average counts over the full data set from 1976 to date, and the red line gives the average for the last year.


  Habitat  

This species is found in sheltered areas of grassland, where grasses grow tall. Typical sites include meadows, hedgerows, roadside verges, woodland rides and woodland clearings. It can also be found in urban areas, such as parks and churchyards.

  Larval Foodplants  

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

  Nectar Sources  

Adults feed primarily on Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Bramble (Rubus fruticosus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Dandelion (Taraxacum agg.), Devil's-bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis), Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis), Kidney Vetch (Anthyllis vulneraria), Knapweeds (Centaurea spp.), Privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi), Thistles (Cirsium spp. and Carduus spp.), Vetches (Vicia spp.) and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

  Imago  

Like many other skippers, the male of this species alternates between perching, patrolling, basking and feeding. Patrolling behaviour is normally exhibited late-morning, with perching behaviour the norm in the early morning and afternoon. When perching, the males will defend their territory vigorously, and see off any butterfly that intrudes. Typical perches are sunlit leaves at a height of around a metre from the ground. Both sexes take nectar, and are particularly fond of Bramble and Thistle. Egg-laying is normally performed during the early afternoon. An egg-laying female makes a short flight in between laying one egg and the next on the underside of a blade of grass.


Large Skipper Female - Crawley, Sussex 20-June-05
Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Jun-2005
Large Skipper Female - Crawley, Sussex 14-June-07
Photo © Vince Massimo
14-Jun-2007
Large Skipper Male - Crawley, Sussex 27-June-06
Photo © Vince Massimo
27-Jun-2006
Large Skipper - imago - Lydlinch Common - 06-Jun-05 (2)
Photo © Pete Eeles
06-Jun-2005
Large Skipper - imago - Nr Finemere Wood - 27-Jun-05 (2)
Photo © Pete Eeles
27-Jun-2005
Large Skipper - imago - Pamber Forest - 07-Jun-04
Photo © Pete Eeles
07-Jun-2004
Large Skipper, Amberley, 15 June 2008
Photo © Neil Hulme
15-Jun-2008
Large Skipper - imago - Bentley Wood - 30-Jun-10 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
30-Jun-2010
Large Skipper Female - Chaldon, Surrey 12-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2010
Large Skipper Female - Chaldon, Surrey 12-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
12-Jun-2010
Large Skipper Male - Chaldon, Surrey 6-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
06-Jun-2010
Large Skipper Male - Chaldon, Surrey 18-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Jun-2010
Large Skipper Male - Woldingham, Surrey 18-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
18-Jun-2010
Large Skipper Male - Chaldon, Surrey 5-June-10
Photo © Vince Massimo
05-Jun-2010
Large Skipper - imago - Pamber Forest - 23-Jun-11 (1)-1
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper - imago - Wrecclesham - 19-May-11 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper mating pair - Ryton Wood Warwickshire 05.07.2011
Photo © nfreem
05-Jul-2011
Large Skipper (female), (Ochlodes faunus), West Sussex (19 June 2012)
Photo © Mark Colvin
19-Jun-2012
P1050650ad Large Skipper, Male, Oaken Wood, 18/06/2012
Photo © Pauline
18-Jun-2012
P1050501ad Male, Large Skipper, Oxenbourne Down, 17/06/2012
Photo © Pauline
17-Jun-2012
P1050309ad Male Large Skipper, 13/06/2012
Photo © Pauline
13-Jun-2012
Large Skipper male underside - Salcey Forest 20.06.2012
Photo © nfreem
20-Jun-2012
Large Skippers, mating pair, 24/06/2012, The Straits
Photo © Pauline
Large Skippers, mating pair, 24/06/2012, The Straits
Photo © Pauline
Large Skipper - imago - Magdalen Hill Down - 26-Jun-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper female 26-June-2013
Photo © Rosalyn
25-Jun-2013
Large Skipper - Langley Park 01 06 2013
Photo © sahikmet
25.6.13  Large Skipper, male, Chiddingfold Wood, Surrey 035
Photo © hideandseek
25-Jun-2013
29.6.13  Large Skippers, copulating, Chiddingfold Wood, Surrey 004
Photo © hideandseek
29-Jun-2013
3.7.2013 Large Skipper, male, Chiddingfold Wood, Surrey 075
Photo © hideandseek
03-Jul-2013
Large Skipper male, Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea, 10.06.2013
Photo © David M
Large Skipper male - Chaldon, Surrey 25-June-2013
Photo © Vince Massimo
25-Jun-2013
Large Skipper male - Heyshott Escarpment, Sussex 6-June-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
06-Jun-2014
Male Large Skipper. 16/6/2014. Arlington, East Sussex.
Photo © badgerbob
16-Jun-2014

  Aberrations  

Description to be completed.

Click here to see a full list of aberrations for this species.

Unclassified Aberrations


Large Skipper ab. pallida. 16/7/2013 Alfriston, East Sussex.
Photo © badgerbob
16-Jul-2013

  Ovum  

Egg-laying sites are normally sheltered spots in sunlight, where the grass grows fairly tall, up to at least 30cm in height. Eggs are white when first laid, gradually becoming orange and then a pearly white just prior to hatching. This stage lasts around 2 weeks.


large skipper egg
Photo © geniculata
24-Jul-2010
Large Skipper - ovum - Pamber Forest - 23-Jun-11 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper - ovum - Thatcham - 01-Jul-11 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper ovum - Duddas Wood, Derrington, Stafford 12/06/14
Photo © Tony Moore
13-Jun-2014
Large Skipper egg, 22/06/2014, Lulworth Cove
Photo © Pauline
22-Jun-2014
Large Skipper egg, 22/06/2014, Lulworth Cove
Photo © Pauline
22-Jun-2014

  Larva  

The larva eats its eggshell on hatching, before forming a protective tube by spinning together the edges of a leaf blade. In the early instars, the larva feeds on the leaf above the tube. In later instars, several leaves may be spun together when forming a tube and the larva may travel further to seek food. The larva creates new tubes as required, either as a result of the lack of food in the immediate vicinity, or its increasing size. After the 4th moult, the larva forms a stout tube in which to hibernate. In spring, the larvae resume feeding and the larval stage may last a lengthy 330 days in total.


Large Skipper - larva - Unknown location - Uknown date (3) [Ben Smart]
Photo © Ben Smart
Large Skipper - larva - Unknown location - Uknown date [Ben Smart]
Photo © Ben Smart
Large Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 01-Jul-11 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 02-Jul-11 (1) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 08-Jul-11 (2) {REARED}
Photo © Pete Eeles
Large Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 08-Jul-11 (2) {REARED}-2
Photo © Pete Eeles

  Pupa  

The larva moults once more before pupating within a tent that is constructed from several grass blades. The pupal stage lasts approximately 3 weeks.


Large Skipper - pupa - Unknown location - Uknown date (2) [Ben Smart]
Photo © Ben Smart
Large Skipper - pupa - Unknown location - Uknown date [Ben Smart]
Photo © Ben Smart

  Similar Species  

Essex Skipper

Description to be completed.

Silver-spotted Skipper

Description to be completed.

Small Skipper

Description to be completed.

  Videos  

Video © John Chapple
Large Skipper.
Video © Paul Wetton
Large Skipper

  Sites  

Click here to see the distribution of this species overlaid with specific site information. Alternatively, select one of the sites listed below.

Sites
Aberffraw Dunes, Aylesbeare Common, Backside Common, Badbury Rings, Banstead Woods, Beachy Head, Bedfont Lakes Country Park LNR, Bishop Middleham Quarry, Box Hill, Coombe Heath, Durlston NNR, Eakring Meadows Nature Reserve, Epping Forest, Fleam Dyke, Great Orme, Horsenden Hill, Hounslow Heath LNR, Howardian Local Nature Reserve, Iping Common, Latton Woods, Laughton Common Wood, Malling Down, Mansmead wood, Mayford Pond, Meanwood Park, Mill Hill, Millenium Arboretum, Moors Valley Country Park, Moss Field, Mynydd Marian, Nupend Wood, Old Down, Basingstoke, Powerstock Common, Pulborough Brooks (RSPB), Redscar and Tunbrook Woods, Rookery, Ryton Woods Meadows, Sutton Bingham Reservoir, Viking Field/LesleySears

  Conservation Status  

This status of this butterfly is considered stable and this species is not currently of conservation concern.

UK BAP StatusDistribution TrendPopulation Trend
Not ListedStableDecrease

From The State of Butterflies in Britain and Ireland and the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).


  Links  

The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

  References  

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Esper (1779) Esper, E.J.C.: Die Schmetterlinge in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen. 1779.
Verity (1919) Verity, R.: Seasonal Polymorphism and Races of some European Grypocera. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation. 1919.

  Copyright © Peter Eeles 2002-2014
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