Small Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus sylvestris)
Photographed on the Saturday 09 July 2016.
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris)
This is the Small Skipper Butterfly (Thymelicus sylvestris) and the image was actually taken at the annual Butterfly Conservation AGM at Ainsdale LNR. The Small Skipper belongs to the Class Insecta, Order Lepidoptera, Family Hesperiidae and Genus Thymelicus and part of the group commonly referred to as Skippers.
The name Small Skipper is a bit of a misnomer i.e. there are at least four other species smaller and the name was originally described to differentiate this skipper from the Large Skipper. The original name in 1704 was ‘Streaked Golden Hog’ for the Small Skipper and ‘Streaked Cloudy Hog for the Large Skipper, which is much more imaginative and to be honest, preferred. These names were lost later in1766. Often seen on grass heads they form self-contained colonies and seldom wander to far from their patch of tall grassland. Females tend to be sedentary remaining still among the grass tussocks awaiting the males who are much more active in their hunt for a suitable mate. The skippers are much more manoeuvrable and capable of hovering and this has been described for the male of this species. They feed on a variety of flowers present in grasslands and have shown a tendency for a preference for a particular flower which may well be productive in producing nectar. This demonstrates at least a short term memory capability. The flights of the Small Skipper are differentiated between egg laying and feeding i.e., when feeding/seeking nectar flight is rapid, however, when egg laying the flights are slow and deliberate, with a preference for the grass ‘Yorkshire Fog’.
Butterflies are part of the Order Lepidoptera which consists of about 180 000+ species worldwide which is one of the most widespread and recognisable orders of insects. However, the larger proportion of this is the Moths. Butterflies fall into the clade or Suborder Rhopalocera and form a single clade, unlike their co
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