Steven Cheshire's British Butterflies
British Butterflies: Species: Species Account - The Large Skipper:
Large Skipper
Ochlodes venata (Bremer & Grey, 1852)

Large Skipper egg.
  Large Skipper caterpillar.
  Large Skipper chrysalis
Large Skipper
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Insecta: Lepidoptera : Family Hesperiidae: Subfamily Hesperiinae : Genus Ochlodes: Species venata:
The Large Skipper butterfly can be seen from the end of May until mid August although numbers drop dramatically during the first week in August. Males are usually found perching in a prominent position in full sunshine on a large leaf awaiting females to pass by.

The Male Large Skipper is easily identified due to the dark diagonal line (sex brand) on each of the forewings. Females lack this line but generally show a clear chequered pattern on their wings. Unlike the
Small Skipper and Essex Skipper the antennae of the Large Skipper tend to be pointed and hooked.

The caterpillars emerge from late June and feed slowly until September feeding mainly at night while during the day it rests within a tube of grass secured with fine silk thread. It hibernates as a half-grown larva within a more robust tube of grass until the following spring when it completes its development. The full grown larvae are bluish-green in colour... a yellow line runs down each side and a dark line along its back while the head is a dull whitish-brown colour.

The larvae pupate during early June with butterflies emerging three weeks later although this can be earlier in the south of Britain. The pupae are dark brown/black and dusted with a white waxy substance and are found within a silk and grass cocoon.
This butterfly is most commonly found in grassy areas where the larvae foodplants grow and remain tall and uncut. A wide variety of habitats are using including disused railway lines road verges clearings and urban sites such as churchyards parks and gardens.
Widespread in England and Wales extending as far north as Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland.
Where to see the Large Skipper in the British Isles
Other notes
The best place to find the Large Skipper is in areas where Bramble and uncut tall grasses can be found. Look for good basking sites prominent leaves where the males will rest waiting for passing females or to chase off other other much larger butterflies.
Lifecycle chart
Flight chart
The lifecycle and flight charts should be regarded as approximate guides to the Large 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
--awaiting data-- --awaiting data--

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

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
Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata) Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea) and False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum).
British subspecies
Ochlodes sylvanus ssp. faunus (Turati, 1905)
Occurs throughout the UK.
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 -38%
UK Population trend 1976-2004 up by 12%

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 not listed (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 Large 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 Large Skipper on the NBN Gateway web site.
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For full details of books and reports mentioned on this web site, view the references page.

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

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Photographs of the Large Skipper
Image ID BB2229 - Large Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Large Skipper female (imago)
BB2229 ©
Image ID BB1699 - Large Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Large Skipper male (imago)
BB1699 ©
Image ID BB1697 - Large Skipper - © Debbie Cheshire
Large Skipper male (imago)
BB1697 ©
Image ID BB1696 - Large Skipper - © Debbie Cheshire
Large Skipper male (imago)
BB1696 ©
Image ID BB1618 - Large Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Large Skipper male (imago)
BB1618 ©
Image ID BB1617 - Large Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Large Skipper male (imago)
BB1617 ©
Image ID BB902 - Large Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Large Skipper female (imago)
BB902 ©
Image ID BB734 - Large Skipper - © Debbie Cheshire
Large Skipper male (imago)
BB734 ©
Image ID BB733 - Large Skipper - © Debbie Cheshire
Large Skipper male (imago)
BB733 ©
Image ID BB382 - Large Skipper - © Steven Cheshire
Large Skipper female (imago)
BB382 ©
There are 15 photographs of the Large Skipper in our stock photo library.
View more photographs of the Large Skipper as a thumbnail gallery or as a slideshow.
Aberrations and forms
There are 6 named aberrant forms of the Large Skipper currently listed. Find out more about aberrants here.

ab. extensa - Tutt 1906
ab. intermedia - Frohawk 1938
ab. juncta - Tutt 1906
ab. obscura - Tutt 1906
ab. opposita - Tutt 1906
ab. pallida - Mosley 1896