Photo by Kate Dent
This is the smallest of the skippers and the earliest to appear in spring. It has a fast, darting flight pattern so they are easiest to see early in the morning when they bask on bare ground in the sunshine. Grizzled skippers require short, mixed vegetation which is usually created by grazing, particularly of lowland chalk grassland, or clearance of areas within woodland. Populations have been declining due to lack of grazing and woodland management. Eggs are laid on a variety of plants such as wild strawberry, bramble, agrimony, salad burnet and creeping cinquefoil.
How to identify
The grizzled skipper is very similar to the slightly larger dingy skipper but those have duller wings without the white spots. Males and females look similar with dark upperwings, white fringes with black lines running through them and ‘chequered’ white spots on the wings which can be enlarged in some individuals. The underside is a pale brown/green with white spots.
Where to find it
Southern England and south and north east Wales
When to find it
How can people help
Grizzled skippers prefer chalk downland habitats - patchworks of chalk grassland, heath, scrub and ponds found on chalk hills. Areas of rare and unique wildlife, chalk grasslands, in particular, have been likened to a rainforest for the diversity of species they hold. But they are being lost at an alarming rate due to changes in land use causing the decline of grazing: it's estimated that we've lost 80% of our chalk grassland over the last 60 years. The Wildlife Trusts manage many grassland and downland nature reserves for the benefit of the rare wildlife they hold. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from scrub-cutting to stockwatching.