Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Grizzled Skipper:
Grizzled Skipper
Pyrgus malvae (Linnaeus, 1758)

Grizzled Skipper egg.
  Grizzled Skipper caterpillar.
  Grizzled Skipper chrysalis
Grizzled Skipper
View a different species

View a different family
Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Hesperiidae: Subfamily Pyrginae : Genus Pyrgus: Species malvae:
This charming small spring butterfly can be difficult to spot due to its ability to vanish during flight. It is an accomplished flyer changing speed and direction in an instant. Up close the large eyes and fluffy face make the Grizzled Skipper a charming character.

The males tend to be found basking in the sun perched on a dead flower head in a sheltered hollow or south facing bank/ditch. They can be easily overlooked when at rest or roosting on flower heads.

The Grizzled Skipper is generally dark brown above, fringed with white and a loose checkerboard pattern of white spots which can be variable. As individuals age, the dark brown ground colour turns a more dull bronze colour.

The Grizzled Skipper is a Priority Species for conservation due to the continued loss of habitat and resulting drop in population.
This butterfly can be found in a variety of habitats including disused railway lines woodland rides and waste ground... although primarily on Chalk Downland in the south of the UK.

In order to breed the Grizzled Skipper requires patches of bare ground, an abundance of larval food plant and spring flowers.
It can be seen in South and Central England parts of South East Wales North East Wales and Lincolnshire. It is usually found in small discrete colonies where the larval food plant grows but is often absent even when the habitat looks suitable for this species.
Where to see the Grizzled Skipper in the British Isles
Wiltshire: Bentley Station Meadow
Cumbria: Howe Riding Wood
Oxfordshire: Aston Rowant NNR
Warwickshire: Wolfhamcote, Bishops Itchington, Southam Quarry, Ryton Wood Meadows BC Reserve
Somerset: Thurlbear Quarrylands
Other notes
Lifecycle chart
Flight chart
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Grizzled Skipper in Britain. Specific lifecycle states, adult emergence and peak flight times vary from year to year due to variations in weather conditions.
IUCN category status 2010 5   IUCN category status 2007 34
Vulnerable Vulnerable

5Fox, R., Warren, M., Brereton, T. M., Roy, D. B. & Robinson, A.
(2010) A new Red List of British Butterflies. Insect Conservation and Diversity.
Vulnerable Vulnerable

3Fox, R., Warren, M & Brereton, T.
(2007) New Red List of British Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation, Wareham.

4More information about IUCN categories.
UK status
Larval foodplants
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
Creeping Cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans)
Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Butterflies of Britain ID Chart
Your personal guide to British Butterflies. This 8-panel laminated chart is designed for speedy butterfly identification in the field. Ideal for anyone interested in identifying butterflies, perfect for children and adults and ideal for outdoor use, laminated, shower-proof and robust. Get your copy today.
Butterflies of Britain (Laminated ID Chart).
Online store
Visit our online store for many more butterfly related books and gifts.
Population trends 1
UK Population trend 1995-2004 down by -42%
UK Population trend 1976-2004 down by -34%

1Fox, R., Asher. J., Brereton. T., Roy, D & Warren, M. (2006) The State of Butterflies in Britain & Ireland, Pices, Oxford.
UK BAP status 2
UK BAP status candidate priority species (link)

2For information about the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, visit the JNCC web site

National Biodiversity Network Gateway
National Biodiversity Network Gateway Distribution Map

Areas in and indicate a contraction in distribution of the Grizzled Skipper except in Ireland where data is only available up until 1999.

* Records shown in outside the natural distribution may be the result of illegal or accidental releases by breeders or, depending upon the species, migrant individuals from mainland Europe.

Key to map*
= 2000 to 2010 inclusive (current distribution)
= records from 1950 to 1999 inclusive
= records from 1900 to 1949 inclusive
Records prior to 1st January 1900 are not shown.

The NBN Gateway records are shown on the map right. (See terms and conditions).

More data is available on the Grizzled Skipper on the NBN Gateway web site.
Powered by NBN Gateway.
For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

Find out more online*
Grizzled Skipper can be found on Peter Eeles excellent UK Butterflies web site.
Grizzled Skipper can be found on Matt Rowlings excellent European Butterflies web site.

  Show your support for this site
Every penny helps. From web site hosting to its continued development as a free resource for all, we need money to cover these ongoing costs.

Can you help towards the running costs of

Photographs of the Grizzled Skipper
Image ID BB2050 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2050 ©
Image ID BB2049 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2049 ©
Image ID BB2048 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2048 ©
Image ID BB2047 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2047 ©
Image ID BB2046 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2046 ©
Image ID BB2040 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2040 ©
Image ID BB2039 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2039 ©
Image ID BB2038 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2038 ©
Image ID BB2037 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2037 ©
Image ID BB2036 - Grizzled Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Grizzled Skipper male (imago)
BB2036 ©
There are 28 photographs of the Grizzled Skipper in our stock photo library.
View more photographs of the Grizzled Skipper as a thumbnail gallery or as a slideshow.
Aberrations and forms
There are 10 named aberrant forms of the Grizzled Skipper currently listed. Find out more about aberrants here.

ab. albina - Tutt 1906
ab. bilineata - Reverdin 1914
ab. fasciata - Tutt 1896
ab. intermedia - Oberthür 1910
ab. marginoelongata - Reverdin 1914
ab. moryi - Strand 1902
ab. punctifera - Fuchs 1889
ab. rufa - Tutt 1906
ab. scabellata - Reverdin 1910
ab. taras - Bergstrasser 1780