Home The Butterflies of Gloucestershire Species Habitats Conservation

Essex Skipper

Thymelicus lineola
Male, 27 July 1996 Pair (female with wings opened)


Essex Skipper is a grassland species which colonises roadside verges and larger areas of grassland which are ungrazed or lightly grazed. Several grass species are used as larval foodplants.

Viewed from the front, the ends of
the antennal clubs look as if they
have been dipped in black paint.

Small Skipper is very similar, but its
antennal clubs are brown. Sometimes
they are quite dark, but not black.
The very tips are usually a red-brown

Conservation Issues

Essex Skipper is currently expanding its range in Britain, and in our area.

Flight Period

Most of the local records have been made from mid July to mid August. The flight period overlaps with that of the very similar Small Skipper.


I received a few records of Essex Skipper up to 1984 (shown on the map), but I checked repeatedly for the species without success. I was already familiar with the Essex Skipper when I moved to Gloucestershire in 1975, and since then I have always checked the identity of "small" skippers when able to get a good view, in the hope of finding the Essex Skipper.

In the early 1990s it was reported to me that the species had been seen in the south-east of Gloucestershire. I was not given any exact locations, and when I checked the area I again found no Essex Skippers.

Recently, the species has been expanding its range rapidly in Britain and in 1996 a lot of roadside verge colonies were found in south-east Gloucestershire, the same area I had checked only a few years before.

Whatever its local status was in the recent past, Essex Skipper colonies are now scattered throughout the area to the east of the Severn, with the strongest concentration still in south-east Gloucestershire. The one reported colony to the west of the Severn will no doubt be followed by many more during the early years of the 21st century.