Dingy Skipper butterfly

©Philip Precey

Dingy Skipper butterfly

©Chris Lawrence

Dingy skipper

Scientific name: Erynnis tages
The moth-like dingy skipper is a small, grey-brown butterfly of open, sunny habitats like chalk grassland, sand dunes, heathland and waste ground.

Species information


Wingspan: 2.7-3.4cm

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

May to August


The dingy skipper is a small butterfly with a moth-like appearance and a buzzing, low, darting flight. It emerges in May and may have a second brood in August if the weather is good. It prefers open habitats, including chalk grassland, heathland, woodland clearings, coastal dunes, old quarries and waste ground; on sunny days, it can be spotted basking on bare ground with open wings. The caterpillars' preferred foodplant is common bird's-foot-trefoil. On heavier soil, it will eat horseshoe vetch or greater bird's-foot-trefoil.

How to identify

The dingy skipper has grey-brown upperwings with mottled markings. Its underwings are more reddish-brown, with two rows of white spots. It can easily be confused with the grizzled skipper, but is not as brightly patterned. It might also be confused with the mother shipton moth or burnet companion moth.


Found throughout the UK, but restricted to coastal sites in Scotland.

Did you know?

In dull weather and at night, the dingy skipper perches on top of dead flowerheads in a moth-like fashion; it curves its in such a way that is not seen in other butterflies.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.