Thursday, 4 August 2016

Silver-spotted Skipper

Silver-spotted Skipper's are normally found on south facing chalk hills. Over the last few years their numbers have fallen quite drastically in Surrey and, are now a priority species in the conservation of butterflies of Surrey.

They prefer a habitat of short grass where Sheep's Fescue grows, [where the eggs are laid] and flowers. They visit flowers such as Dwarf Thistle, Scabious, [two of their favourites] Marjoram, and Hard Heads etc. for nectar. On warm summer days, they can be found flying fast and low over the hillside, like out of control helicopters. They fly between the middle of July and early September and, have one brood a year.

The males differ from that of the females apart from the undersides of their wings which are similar. The male have a obvious black sex brand on the top of each forewing, which are absent in the females.

Male Silver-spotted Skipper clearly showing the black sex brands on the forewings.

Female Silver-spotted Skipper showing the upper sides of her forewings, [no sex brands].

Male Silver-spotted Skipper showing the undersides of his wings, [on Marjoram].

Female Silver-spotted Skipper's wing undersides, [on unopened Scabious flower].

The males eyes are also larger than the females.  A pair of Silver-spotted Skippers copulating, [mating] clearly showing the difference in eye size, [female top/male bottom, old and discoloured].

Finally, the tip of the males antenna are orange on top and black on the underside, while the females are black in colour, and this is a very easy way of distinguishing between the sexes when their wings are closed.

Male Silver-spotted Skipper showing his orange tipped [top] and black [bottom] Antenna.

Female Silver-spotted Skipper showing her black tipped antenna.

The ovum [eggs] are laid on  blades  of Sheep's Fescue, [a small species of grass] which are adhered to the grass stems with a gluey substance.

Females have been known to adhere two thin grass stems together in order to lay her egg on safely, [if she feels that one grass stem is not wide enough to  securely hold her ovum].

Two grass stems of Sheep's Fescue that have clearly been adhered together
by a egg laying female Silver-spotted Skipper
They overwinter at this stage, with the tiny larva emerging in the spring.


  1. Great explanation about the SSS differences Nick very helpful. Will take a closer look at my photos.

  2. Great explanation about the SSS differences Nick very helpful. Will take a closer look at my photos.