Butterfly that is smaller than a dandelion bloom

2 June 2013

I did a post a while back: How to identify your butterfly – size in which I tried to show how greatly the size of our butterflies in the UK varies between species. I have now received a photo from Mark Pike of a Dingy Skipper on a dandelion flower, which you can see below, on the left; on the right I’ve added a shot of my own of a Peacock on a dandelion. What a difference!

Left: Dingy Skipper on dandelion flower. Right: Peacock on dandelion flower.

Left: Dingy Skipper on dandelion flower. Right: Peacock on dandelion flower.

The Dingy Skipper (what a rotten name to give the poor thing!) is not a butterfly you are likely to see in your garden: although it inhabits a wide range of habitats, it needs places where the plants on which its caterpillars feed – bird’s-foot trefoil and horseshoe vetch – grow in a sunny, sheltered areas with generally sparse plant growth and patches of bare ground. It has declined over the last ten years, probably due to a reduction in suitable habitat because of changes in land use.

There are two skippers you might see in your garden if you are near suitable habitat: the Large and the Small Skipper, so look out for very small brown butterflies in your garden – their peak time is July, but they may be around in June or August too.

Small Skipper on dark blue lobelia - taken in July 2008

Small Skipper on lobelia – taken in my garden in July 2008

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