Dingy Skipper

Erynnis tages (e-RIN-iss TAY-jeez)

Dingy-Skipper- 5D32042. Lincs, May 2015.
Photo © IainLeach
 

Wingspan
27 - 34mm

Checklist Number
57.001

Family:HesperiidaeLatreille, 1809
Subfamily:PyrginaeBurmeister, 1878
Tribe:  
Genus:ErynnisSchrank, 1801
Subgenus:  
Species:tages(Linnaeus, 1758)
Subspecies:tages (Linnaeus, 1758)
 baynesi Huggins, 1956

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Introduction

Despite its name, a freshly-emerged Dingy Skipper reveals a subtle pattern of browns and greys that is quite beautiful. However, this butterfly does live up to its name as scales are lost over time, resulting in a lacklustre and drab appearance. This is our most widely-distributed skipper, despite its decline due to changes in farming practice. Colonies can be found throughout the British Isles, including northern Scotland and Ireland where, although scarce, is found on outcrops of limestone. This butterfly's strongholds, however, are in central and southern England. This butterfly lives in discrete colonies with little interchange between them.

Erynnis tages ssp. tages

This species was first defined in Linnaeus (1758) as shown here (type locality: Europe).

The British population is represented by the nominate subspecies, with the exception of the colonies found in the Burren in Clare, Ireland, where it is replaced by the subspecies baynesi.

Dingy Skipper, 18 May 2013, Rake Bottom

Male
Photo © Pauline

Dingy Skipper - imago - Hartslock - 10-May-09 (1)

Male Underside
Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 30 April 2010 I9T9580

Female
Photo © IainLeach

Dingy Skippers - Ketton Quarry, Rutland 20-May-2010

Female Underside
Photo © benwmbc

Photo Album ...


Erynnis tages ssp. baynesi

This subspecies was first defined in Huggins (1956a).

This subspecies, found in Ireland, is generally restricted to the Burren in Clare, although there are some records from South-east Galway. Baynes (1954) originally noted this subspecies saying "This local race exhibits an unusually large amount of grey marking, and would seem to be a sub-species", but failed to provide any name. This was left to Huggins (1956a) who duly named it after its discoverer. Aldwell & Smyth (2015) state that "... from studying photographs from south Donegal it would seem that subspecies baynesi is also present here".

This subspecies differs from ssp. tages in having a darker ground colour coupled with paler, almost white, markings, giving an overall appearance that has a much greater contrast. Huggins says that there appears to be a much greater range of variation in ssp. baynesi than in the nominate subspecies.

Erynnis tages ssp. baynesi (Huggins, 1956)

♂, ♀. Ground colour brownish-black, light markings very pale grey, often approaching white. Holotype ♂, "Burren, 29.v.56, H.C.Huggins." Allotype ♀, "Burren, 8.vi.56, H.C.Huggins."

Dingy Skipper - imago - Boston, Burren, Clare, Ireland - 30-May-13-6

Male
Photo © Pete Eeles

Male Underside

Dingy Skipper - imago - Boston, Burren, Clare, Ireland - 30-May-13-4

Female
Photo © Pete Eeles

Female Underside

Photo Album ...


History

The table below shows a chronology of vernacular names attributed to this species. Any qualification of the name (e.g. male, female) is shown in brackets after the name.

YearNameReference
1704Handley's Brown ButterflyPetiver (1702-1706)
1706Handley's Brown Hog ButterflyPetiver (1702-1706)
1717Handley's Small Brown ButterflyPetiver (1717)
1766Dingey SkipperHarris (1766)
1824Dingy SkipperJermyn (1824)

Conservation Status

The Dingy Skipper is in decline and is therefore a priority species for conservation efforts.

UK BAP StatusOccurrence Change
1976-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
1976-2014 (%)
Occurrence Change
2005-2014 (%)
Abundance Change
2005-2014 (%)
Priority Species
Click here to access the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for this species.
Large Decrease-61
Decrease-19
Increase+21
Large Increase+69

The table above shows the occurrence (distribution) and abundance (population) trends, using information from The State of the UK's Butterflies 2015 (Fox, 2015). Any UK BAP status is taken from the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) (2007 review).

Habitat

The butterfly is found in warm open areas such as south-facing chalk and limestone downland, open hillsides, railway embankments, dunes, cliffs and abandoned quarries. It can also be found at the ends of woodland as well as in woodland clearings and rides.

Distribution

 

Click here to see the distribution of this species or here to see the distribution of this species together with specific site information overlaid.

Life Cycle

The butterfly is on the wing in May and June and, in favourable years, there may be a partial second brood.

Erynnis tages ssp. tages

Erynnis tages ssp. baynesi

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.

Imago

Like all skippers, the Dingy Skipper has an extremely fast flight that can be difficult to follow as it flits along, close to the ground. The butterfly is a warmth-loving species, and spends long periods basking on bare earth or a stone that has been baked by the sun. The butterfly prefers to nectar on yellow flowers and has a preference for flowers of Bird's-foot Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Buttercup and Hawkweeds. In the late afternoon, the butterflies gather to roost on dead flowers or grass heads, where they take on a moth-like pose, with wings wrapped around the flower head.

Adults feed primarily on Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), Bugle (Ajuga reptans), Buttercups (Ranunculus spp.), Hawkweeds (Hieracium/Hypochoeris), Ragged Robin (Lychnis flos-cuculi) and Vetches (Vicia spp.).

Erynnis tages ssp. tages

Dingy Skipper - imago - Cerne Abbas - 31-May-06 (0166)

Photo © Pete Eeles
31-May-2006

Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 30 April 2010 I9T9486

Photo © IainLeach

Dingy Skipper pair - Heyshott, Sussex 11-May-2012

Photo © Neil Hulme
11-May-2012

Dingy Skipper female - Heyshott Escarpment, Sussex 29-April-2014

Photo © Neil Hulme
29-Apr-2014

Dingy Skipper, 18 May 2013, Rake Bottom

Photo © Pauline
18-May-2013

Dingy Skipper Male - Chaldon, Surrey 20-April-11

Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Apr-2011

Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 28 April 2010 I9T7233

Photo © IainLeach

Dingy Skipper

Photo © Gruditch
03-May-2010

Dingy-Skipper - Dunstable May 2013 5D36964

Photo © IainLeach

Dingy Skipper - Duke Site - 30-04-2016

Photo © Wurzel

Dingy Skipper - Noar Hill - 15 May 2010 (2)

Photo © Clive
15-May-2010

P1040041-800 Dingy Skipper, Noar Hill, 23/05/2012

Photo © Pauline
23-May-2012

Dingy Skipper - male - Greenham Common - 07-May-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
07-May-2015

Dingy Skipper - imago - Hartslock - 10-May-09 (2)

Photo © Pete Eeles
10-May-2009

Dingy Skipper - Wyre Forest 26.05.2015

Photo © Neil Freeman
26-May-2015

Dingy Skipper - Roosting pair - Wiltshiire - 30th - May - 2014

Photo © Maximus
30-May-2014

Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 25 April 2011 03C7767

Photo © IainLeach

Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 16 May 2010 I9T0352

Photo © IainLeach

Dingy Skipper - male - Greenham Common - 04-May-15

Photo © Pete Eeles
04-May-2015

Dingy-Skipper- 5D31304. Lincs, May 2015.

Photo © IainLeach

Photo Album (62 photos) ...


Erynnis tages ssp. baynesi

Dingy Skipper - imago - Boston, Clare - 2005 [Adrian Riley]

Photo © Adrian Riley

Dingy Skipper - imago - Carraroe, Galway - 07-Jun-07 [Graham Smith]

Photo © Graham Smith

Dingy Skipper - imago - Boston, Burren, Clare, Ireland - 30-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - imago - Boston, Burren, Clare, Ireland - 30-May-13-4

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - imago - Boston, Burren, Clare, Ireland - 30-May-13-5

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - imago - Boston, Burren, Clare, Ireland - 30-May-13-6

Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album (6 photos) ...


Ovum

Eggs are laid singly at the base of leaflets and are greenish-white when first laid, later changing to orange.

1-Dingy Skipper ovum - 4 DMap (1)

Photo © Tony Moore

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (2) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Unknown location - Unknown date (3) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 08-Jun-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 09-Jun-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 09-Jun-13-5

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 09-Jun-13-6

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 09-Jun-13-7

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 09-Jun-13-8

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 26-May-13

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 26-May-13-2

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 16-May-14-2

Photo © Pete Eeles
16-May-2014

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 16-May-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
16-May-2014

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 17-May-14-3

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-May-2014

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 17-May-14-4

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-May-2014

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 17-May-14

Photo © Pete Eeles
17-May-2014

Dingy Skipper - ovum - Greenham Common - 16-May-16

Photo © Pete Eeles
16-May-2016

Dingy Skipper - Ovum - Badbury Rings, Dorset - 12-May-15

Photo © Coopera

Dingy Skipper - Ovum - Badbury Rings, Dorset - 12-May-15

Photo © Coopera

Photo Album (19 photos) ...


Larva

Eggs hatch after about a fortnight and the young larva immediately spins 2 or 3 leaflets together to form a protective tent from which it feeds. These leaflets are gradually eaten and the larva creates a new and larger tent as it grows. In August, after its 4th moult and when fully-grown, the larva builds a more-substantial tent, the hibernaculum, within which it hibernates.

The primary larval foodplant is Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus). Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus) and Horseshoe Vetch (Hippocrepis comosa) are also used.

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 20-Jul-13 (1) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jul-2013

Photo Album (1 photos) ...


1st Instar

Description to be completed.

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (9) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (18) [REARED]-2

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper ovum hatching.

Photo © Tony Moore

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (3) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (13) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper ovum hatching

Photo © Tony Moore

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (19) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (10) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (20) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date (7) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (11) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (1) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (8) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (5) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper ovum hatching

Photo © Tony Moore

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (7) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (14) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (18) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (6) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (4) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles

Photo Album (26 photos) ...


2nd Instar

Description to be completed.

3rd Instar

Description to be completed.

4th Instar

Description to be completed.

Well grown larva recently disturbed from his den.

Photo © Tony Moore
22-Jul-2013

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 20-Jul-13 (2) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jul-2013

Photo Album (2 photos) ...


5th Instar

Description to be completed.

Dingy Skipper - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date (3) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Dingy Skipper - larva - Unknown location - Unknown date (5) [REARED] [Reg Fry]

Photo © Reg Fry

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 05-Aug-13 (1) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Aug-2013

Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 19-Aug-13 (9) [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
Final instar
19-Aug-2013

Photo Album (4 photos) ...


Pupa

The larva emerges from hibernation in April and, without further feeding, pupates within its hibernaculum.

Dingy Skipper - pupa - Thatcham - 23-Apr-14 [REARED]-5

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Apr-2014

Dingy Skipper - pupa - Thatcham - 23-Apr-14 [REARED]-6

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Apr-2014

Dingy Skipper - pupa - Thatcham - 23-Apr-14 [REARED]-7

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Apr-2014

Dingy Skipper - pupa - Thatcham - 23-Apr-14 [REARED]-8

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Apr-2014

Dingy Skipper - pupa - Thatcham - 23-Apr-14 [REARED]

Photo © Pete Eeles
23-Apr-2014

Photo Album (5 photos) ...


Aberrations

Description to be completed.

Click here to see the aberration descriptions and images for this species.

Similar Species

No similar species found.

Videos


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The following links provide additional information on this butterfly.

References

The species description provided here references the following publications:

ReferenceDetails
Aldwell & Smyth (2015) Aldwell, R. & Smyth, F. (2015) The Butterflies of Donegal.
Baynes (1954) Baynes, E.S.A. (1954) The Annual Exhibition - Record of Exhibits. Proceedings of the South London Entomological and Natural History Society.
Burmeister (1878) Burmeister, H., Daireaux, E. and Maupas, E. (1878) Description physique de la République Argentine: d'après des observations personnelles et étrangères par H. Burmeister ; traduit de l'allemant par E. Maupas.
Harris (1766) Harris, M. (1766) The Aurelian. Edition 1.
Huggins (1956a) Huggins, H.C. (1956) The Burren subspecies of Erynnis tages Linn.. The Entomologist.
Jermyn (1824) Jermyn, L. (1824) The Butterfly Collector's Vade Mecum: or a Synoptical Table of English Butterflies.
Latreille (1809) Latreille, P.A. (1809) Genera crustaceorum et insectorum secundum ordinem naturalem in familias disposita, iconibus exemplisque plurimis explicata.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C. (1758) Systema Naturae. Edition 10.
Petiver (1702-1706) Petiver, J. (1702-1706) Gazophylacii naturae et artis decas prima.
Petiver (1717) Petiver, J. (1717) Papilionum Britanniae Icones.
Schrank (1801) Schrank, F. (1801) Fauna boica. Durchgedachte Geschichte der in Baiern einheimschen und zahmen Thiere.