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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.
Dingy Skipper, 18 May 2013, Rake Bottom
Wingspan
27 - 34mm
Photo © Pauline
Dingy Skipper

Erynnis tages
Number: 57.001
B&F No.: 1532
Family:Hesperiidae (Latreille, 1809)
Subfamily:Pyrginae (Burmeister, 1878)
Tribe: 
Genus:Erynnis (Schrank, 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 - imago - Greenham Common - 22-May-12
Male
Photo © Pete Eeles
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

Erynnis tages ssp. baynesi

This subspecies was first defined in Huggins (1956). 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 (1956) who duly named it after its discoverer.

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

  Phenology  

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.


  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.

  Larval Foodplants  

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.

  Nectar Sources  

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.).

  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.

Erynnis tages ssp. tages


Dingy Skipper - imago - Hartslock - 10-May-09 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
10-May-2009
Dingy Skippers - Ketton Quarry, Rutland 20-May-2010
Photo © benwmbc
20-May-2010
Dingy Skipper
Photo © Gruditch
03-May-2010
Dingy Skipper - Noar Hill - 15 May 2010 (2)
Photo © Clive
15-May-2010
Dingy Skipper - imago - Hartslock - 12-May-10 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
12-May-2010
Dingy Skipper - Bishops Hill, Warwickshire, 23.05.2012
Photo © nfreem
23-May-2012
Dingy Skipper Male - Chaldon, Surrey 20-April-11
Photo © Vince Massimo
20-Apr-2011
Dingy Skipper (male), Chiddingfold Forest (9 May 2012)
Photo © Mark Colvin
09-May-2012
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 28-Apr-11 (3)
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 16 May 2010 I9T0352
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 16 May 2010 I9T0443
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 28 April 2010 I9T7233
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 16 May 2010 I9T8857
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 16 May 2010 I9T9053
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper-Dunstable 30 April 2010 I9T9580
Photo © IainLeach
P1040041-800 Dingy Skipper, Noar Hill, 23/05/2012
Photo © Pauline
23-May-2012
P1040084-800 Dingy Skipper, Noar Hill, 23/05/2012
Photo © Pauline
23-May-2012
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 13-May-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 22-May-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 22-May-12-1
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper Male (Second Brood) - Mill Hill, Sussex 30-July-2011
Photo © Neil Hulme
30-Jul-2011
Dingy Skipper pair - Heyshott, Sussex 11-May-2012
Photo © Neil Hulme
11-May-2012
1.5.2012 Dingy Skipper, male, Chiddingfold Wood, Surrey
Photo © hideandseek
01-May-2012
Dingy Skipper, 18 May 2013, Rake Bottom
Photo © Pauline
18-May-2013
Dingy Skipper. Female underside. 29/5/2013. Seaford.
Photo © badgerbob
29-May-2013
Dingy-Skipper - Dunstable May 2013 5D36921
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper - Dunstable May 2013 5D36964
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper - Dunstable May 2013 5D37470
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy-Skipper - Dunstable May 2013 5D38146
Photo © IainLeach
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 18-May-13
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 18-May-13-16
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 18-May-13-17
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper male - Mill Hill, Sussex  14-April-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
14-Apr-2014
Dingy Skipper female - Heyshott Escarpment, Sussex 29-April-2014
Photo © Neil Hulme
29-Apr-2014
Dingy Skipper - Roosting pair - Wiltshiire - 30th - May - 2014
Photo © Maximus
30-May-2014
Dingy Skipper - male - Greenham Common - 16-May-14
Photo © Pete Eeles
16-May-2014

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

  Aberrations  

Description to be completed.

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

Unclassified Aberrations


Dingy Skipper - aberration - Nr Stockbridge Down - 21-May-10 (1)
Photo © Pete Eeles
21-May-2010
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 18-May-13-11
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 18-May-13-12
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 18-May-13-13
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - imago - Greenham Common - 18-May-13-15
Photo © Pete Eeles

  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 - Unknown location - Unknown date [REARED] [Brian Clegg]
Photo © Brian Clegg
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 - 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

  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.


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 - Unknown location - Unknown date (7) [REARED] [Reg Fry]
Photo © Reg Fry
Dingy Skipper ovum hatching
Photo © Tony Moore
Dingy Skipper ovum hatching.
Photo © Tony Moore
Dingy Skipper ovum hatching
Photo © Tony Moore
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (20) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (19) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (18) [REARED]-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (18) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (17) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (16) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (15) [REARED]-2
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (15) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (14) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (13) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (11) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (5) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 11-Jun-13 (1) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Well grown larva recently disturbed from his den.
Photo © Tony Moore
22-Jul-2013
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 05-Aug-13 (1) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
05-Aug-2013
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 20-Jul-13 (1) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jul-2013
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 20-Jul-13 (2) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
20-Jul-2013
Dingy Skipper - larva - Thatcham - 19-Aug-13 (9) [REARED]
Photo © Pete Eeles
Final instar
19-Aug-2013

  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

  Similar Species  

No similar species found.

  Videos  

Video © Peter Eeles
Dingy Skipper mating pair
Video © John Chapple
Dingy 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
Aberbargoed Grasslands, Aldbury Nowers, Alner's Gorse, Ardersier, Ardley Quarry, Arnside Knott, Aston Upthorpe Downs, Attenborough Nature Reserve, Aughinish Island, Badbury Rings, Ballard Down, Bannerdown, Banstead Downs, Banstead Woods, Barton Hills, Beachy Head, Bishop Middleham Quarry, Bishops Itchington, Black Rock, Blue Lagoon, Botley Wood, Brackett's Coppice, Branscombe, Braunton Burrows, Brigstock, Brotheridge Green, Brown's Folly, Brown's Hill Quarry, Buckland Wood, Bunny's Hill, Caherconnell, Calstone Coombes, Cannock Chase, Carymoor Environmental Centre, Castle Eden Dene, Castle Hill NNR, Cerne Hill Giant, Chambers Farm Wood, Chawridge Bank, Clubmen's Down, College Lake, Common Hill, Coombe Bisset Down, Coombe Heath, Corfe Castle, Cother Wood, Cotley Hill, Crook Peak, Dean Hill (West), Deepdale, Denbies Hillside, Devil's Ditch, Dolebury Warren, Draycott Sleights, Duchie's Piece, Duncliffe Woods, Durlston Country Park, Durlston NNR, Earl's Hill, East Poldens Reserves, Ellerburn Bank, Eyarth Rocks, Farley Mount Country Park, Finnamore Lakes, Fontmell Down, Foulden Common, Frog Firle Farm, Gait Barrows, Goblin Combe, Grangelands, Granville, Greenham Common, Gurney Slade, Haldon Butterfly Walk, Hambledon Hill, Hartslock, Hod Hill, Hog Cliff Bottom, Holtspur Valley Reserves, Homefield Wood, Hutchinsons Bank, Ivinghoe, Jerry's Hole, Kemsing Downs, Ketton Quarry, Kingcombe Meadows, Kingcombe Stones, Lankham Bottom, Larden Chase, Lein of Garmouth, Levin Down, Llanymynech Rocks, Loggerheads Country Park, Long Knoll, Lydden Down, Lydlinch Common, Malling Down, Martin Down, Mere Down, Merthyr Mawr, Middleton Down, Mill Hill, Monk Wood, Mount Caburn, Murvagh, Mynydd Marian, Nairn Dunes, Narborough Reserve, Noar Hill, Old Winchester Hill, Orlestone Forest, Oxwich, Parc Penallta, Penhale Sands, Pewley Downs, Piddles Wood, Polhill Bank, Port O'Warren, Portland Tout Quarry, Portpatrick, Powerstock Common, Prestwood Picnic Site, Priddy Mineries, Quoditch Moor Nature Reserve, Ryton Woods Meadows, Salcey Forest, Sewell Cutting, Skerries Station, Sovell Down, Stockbridge Down, Stoke Camp, Stony Green Hill, Stubhampton Bottom, The Ercall, The Knapp and Papermill, Thurlbear Quarrylands, Tickenham Ridge, Toads Hole, Torr Works, Totternhoe Knolls and Quarry, Townsend Quarry, Tring Park, Tucking Mill, Twyford Wood, Twywell Hills and Dales, Ubley Warren, Walton Common, Warton Crag, Watlington Hill, Welsh Moor, Whipsnade, White Hill Reserve, White Sheet Hill, Whitehawk Hill, Whiteley Pastures, Yoesden Bank

  Conservation Status  

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

UK BAP StatusDistribution TrendPopulation Trend
Priority Species
Click here to access the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for this species.
StableDecrease

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
Baynes (1954) Baynes, E.S.A.: The Annual Exhibition - Record of Exhibits. Proceedings of the South London Entomological and Natural History Society. 1954.
Huggins (1956) Huggins, H.C.: The Burren subspecies of Erynnis tages Linn.. The Entomologist. 1956.
Linnaeus (1758) Linnaeus, C.: Systema Naturae. Edn.10. 1758.

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