Moths in the Hesperiidae (skippers) family

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Latin name Common name
Pyrgus malvae Grizzled skipper

Hesperiidae overview

Butterflies in this family are commonly known as the skippers, this common name coming from their flight pattern of darts and skips. There are over 3000 species world wide, 38 species in Europe, and these are mainly small, brown grey or orange, 8 species in the British Isles, and only one (Dingy skipper) in Ireland. Caterpillars usually shelter in leaves folded around themselves and held in place with silk. The adult butterflies tend to have a rather wide head when compared to other butterflies (see below). They are often seen in a basking pose with their wings held flat and spread out.

Grizzled skipper, Pyrgus malvae

Grizzles skipper, Pyrgus malvae

The Grizzled skipper, Pyrgus malvae, above is found throughout Europe except the north, and is absent from Scotland and Ireland. It is found in downland, woodland margins and coarse grassland. There is usually one generation a year, but sometimes two. The eggs are laid singly on the leaves of the foodplant in May, and hatch after about ten days. At first the tiny caterpillar spins a silk shelter under which it eats, but when it is larger it folds the leaf over to form a shelter around itself. The caterpillar grows up to 19 mm long. Its foodplants include potentilla, wild strawberry, mallow, bramble and raspberry. It pupates in July in a cocoon on a stem at the base of the foodplant, and adults emerge the following April. In good years adults may emerge in August and produce a second generation. The adult wingspan is 20 - 27 mm. The pattern when the wings are folded is similar, but paler. The Grizzled skipper is the only species in the genus found in Britain.

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