Small Skipper

Thymelicus sylvestris

Andrew Cooper
Peter Eeles
Iain H Leach
Iain H Leach
Bob Eade
Peter Eeles
Jim Asher

Identification Tip

Skippers rest with their wings pointing backwards, which makes them resemble moths rather than butterflies. Small skippers have bright orange wings that lack the brown markings of the larger Large Skippers.

What do they eat?

Caterpillars munch on:

  • Yorkshire-fog grass (favourite)

And may occasionally use other grasses such as:

  • Timothy
  • Creeping Soft-grass
  • False Brome
  • Meadow Foxtail
  • Cock’s-foot

Adults feed on a range of flowers including:

  • Brambles
  • Common Fleabane
  • Devil’s-bit Scabious
  • Red Clover
  • Self-heal

Where does it spend the winter?

Small Skippers spend the winter as tiny caterpillars, tucked up inside a tube of grass. Hatching from their eggs in the late summer, they barely move before spinning a silk cocoon around themselves and hibernating until the following spring.

Ideas to help Small Skipper in your Wild Space



Flying Season

June - August

Life Cycle


June, July, August


July, August


January, February, March, April, May, June, August, September, October, November, December


June, July

UK Distribution

Want to learn


There is even more about this species on the main Butterfly Conservation website

Fun Facts
about the Small Skipper

Male Small Skippers are territorial and will perch in a favourite spot and fly out at any passing butterfly, hoping to find a female to mate with.