Skipping among Skippers

I’m lying in the grass in a chalk meadow surrounded by the sounds and smells of nature. It’s a sensory delight. There’s a strange butterfly which looks like a moth nearby.

Is it a butterfly? Is it a moth? It’s a Skipper and there are 3,500 species of them across the world. Most butterflies have clubs on the ends of their antennae, while Skippers have antennae like crochet hooks. This small Skipper is the Large Skipper Ochlodes sylvanusUpperwings orange with brown margins with a few pale orange spots”:

Large Skipper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Skippers also have big eyes and fat bodies with strong wing muscles.

Here’s a Small Skipper Thymelicus sylvestris:

Small Skipper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

How do I know it’s a Small Skipper? After all, it’s not exactly small, is it?

Simon Crockford says: “Do you see the grey crescent shape on the underside of the forewing tip? That, along with the plain grey underside of the hindwing are indicative of Small/Essex skipper (you’ll need to study antenna tips to separate those two) Large skipper show faint chequered markings on the underside of the wings (sometimes these are very faint indeed) there are subtle differences in forewing tip shapes too but that takes a while to get your head around.”

Thanks Simon. I think that this may, indeed, take me a little while to get my head around.

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