Devon Wildlife Trust The large skipper is a small, orange butterfly, similar to the small skipper. Adults fly between June and August, when they can often be seen resting in sunny positions and long grass, or feeding on flowers such as bramble. Large skippers can be found on rough grassland and sand dunes, along roadside verges and woodland edges, in large gardens, or anywhere else with plenty of grasses. They lay their eggs on grass blades. Foodplants of the caterpillars include cock's-foot, purple moor-grass and false broom.

How to identify

The large skipper has russet-brown wings edged with large, dark brown patches and dotted with small, light orange patches. This pattern helps distinguish them from the small and Essex skippers. Males have a small black stripe in the middle of their forewings.


Devon Branch of Butterfly Conservation Devon has around 39 resident butterfly species and we can help point you in the right direction on where and when is best to see them.  Why not join in our one of our Events (during the summer we organise field events to show you some of our resident butterfly species and in the winter we organise conservation work days to improve the habitat for butterflies in Devon).

Butterfly Conservation Male Large Skippers are most often found perching in a prominent, sunny position, usually on a large leaf at a boundary between taller and shorter vegetation, awaiting passing females. Females are less conspicuous, though both sexes may be seen feeding on flowers, Bramble being a favourite. Males have a thick black line through the centre of fore-wing. Undersides have faint orange spots unlike the bright silver spots in Silver-spotted Skipper. 

The presence of a faint chequered pattern on both sides of the wings distinguishes this species from the similar Small and Essex Skippers, which fly at the same time. The Large Skipper is widespread in southern Britain and its range has extended northwards in north-east England since the 1960s.


Male(?) Large Skipper on a Bramble, Rock Lane, Chulmleigh, photo by Grant Sherman 20th June 2020


Devonshire Association Entomology Section The Entomology Section promotes the study and recording of insects and also spiders in the county.

Meetings, talks, exhibitions, publications and field trips are arranged annually across the county of Devon and are suitable for beginners and experienced alike. Field trips are usually held in association with other specialist groups with whom we maintain close links. We also meet with other sections to demonstrate, and learn, about the inter-relationships with other disciplines.

With at least ten specialists in different Orders within the insect class we cater for a wide range of interests. Some of our Recorders are national experts in their field and hence we are the major collective source of entomological expertise in the county.


Devon Biodiversity Record Centre Submit your sightings of Large Skippers and other species in Devon 


British Naturalist's Association 

There are 56 British butterflies species breeding in the UK. These are represented by just six families, skippers (Hesperiidae): swallowtails (Papilionidae): whites and yellows (Pieridae): hairstreaks, coppers and blues (Lycaenidae): metalmarks (Riodinidae) and the fritillaries, nymphalids and browns (Nymphalidae)

Two of these families are represented by only one species, the Papilionidae by the swallowtail (Papilio machaon), which is confined to Norfolk Broads and the Riodinidae by the Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis lucina) found only in local areas in the north-east, north-west and south-east England.

Twenty nine of Great Britain’s breeding butterfly species are listed as ‘High UK priority’, with 9 of those regarded as requiring ‘urgent action across their UK range’. Butterfly Conservation found further evidence of the serious, long-term and ongoing decline of UK butterflies, with 70% of species declining in occurrence since 1976. and overall, 76% of the UK’s resident and regular migrant butterfly species declined in either abundance or occurrence (or both) over the past four decades. By comparison, 47% of species increased in one or both measures. This is of great concern not just for butterflies but for other wildlife species and the overall state of the environment. 


Buglife is the only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. We’re actively working to save Britain’s rarest little animals, everything from bees to beetles, worms to woodlice and jumping spiders to jellyfish. 


National Biodiveristy Network The NBN Atlas is a collaborative project that aggregates biodiversity data from multiple sources and makes it available and usable online. It is the UK’s largest collection of freely available biodiversity data. 


Wikipedia The large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus) is a butterfly of the family Hesperiidae.

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