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Small Skipper Butterfly

Thymelicus sylvestris

Small Skipper Butterfly, Small Skipper

A photograph of a small skipper Thymelicus sylvestris on a flower

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) (14301241527)

by Bernard DUPONT. CC BY-SA 2.0

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The Small Skipper Butterfly belongs to the skipper family (Hesperiidae) found within the order Lepidoptera! Skipper Butterflies are brightly coloured, boasting deep orange wings with dark brown borders and a golden-yellow fringe. They're expert flyers who dart between the blades of long grasses when disturbed. Small Skippers thrive in large open habitats, such as meadows, unimproved grassland, downs, and road verges. In the UK, Thymelicus sylvestris is typically restricted to the South. More recently, its distribution has shifted more North with warmer temperatures.
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A beneficial pollinator of wildflowers.


Adults: Butterflies are small and deep orange (wingspan: 2-3cm). The orange wings have dark brown margins, followed by a fine golden-yellow fringe. At rest, the species wings appear moth-like, a characteristic not seen in other butterfly families. Males possess a black streak on the forewing. Larvae: The caterpillars are small and pale green with pale yellow heads. The body's covered in faint, tiny black speckles. Pupae: The cocoons are spun using silk combined with the leaves of the foodplant. Initially, it begins light green but slowly fades to brown with age, looking like a malformed dead leaf. Eggs: The eggs are laid in rows of 2-8. They're tiny, appearing white at first, fading to a pearly yellow with time.











Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.

Biological treatment

Butterflies are considered important pollinators. As caterpillars, Small Skipper's feed on long grasses so won't cause too many problems in gardens! Attract these butterflies to your patch by planting long native grasses and a selection of wildflowers!



Brachypodium spp.

Foxtail grass

Alopecurus spp.


Dactylis spp.

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