Butterflies of Scotland
- Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)

Large Skipper
Graphics via Wikimedia

The range of the Large Skipper extends throughout Europe to northern Asia, China and Japan. It occurs in England, Wales, but in Scotland it is found just in the south and west in the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

Although called 'Large' this is still a relatively small butterfly - wingspan is around 3 centimetres. Upperwings are orange with brown margins with a few pale orange spots. Males have thick black line through centre of fore-wing. Undersides have faint orange spots unlike bright silver spots in Silver-spotted Skipper. It can be found anywhere where wild grasses are allowed to grow tall, to at least 30cm (12 inches). It can also be found in urban areas, such as parks and churchyards.

The larva eats its eggshell on hatching, before forming a tube by spinning together the edges of a leaf blade with silk to form a protective tube. It hibernates as a half-grown caterpillar and emerges in the spring to continue feeding and growing. The larval stage may last a lengthy 330 days in total. Pupation lasts about three weeks during May and June and the adults are present from June to August. An active little butterfly in sunny weather, it is attracted to various flowers, but has a distinct liking for Bramble (blackberry) flowers.

The male of this species alternates between perching, patrolling, basking and feeding. Patrolling behaviour is normally exhibited late-morning, with perching behaviour the norm in the early morning and afternoon. When perching, the males will defend their territory vigorously, and see off any butterfly that intrudes. Both sexes take nectar, and are particularly fond of Bramble and Thistle.

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