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Grizzled Skipper

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

A small butterfly that likes flowery downs and slopes; they fly close to the ground preferring soil and rocks as resting places.


  • Grizzled Skipper: streaks of grey

    Post date: Wednesday, 6 May, 2015 - 00:00

    The grizzled skipper (Pyrgus malvae) is a far from common species, it may be overlooked of course but I see it only very occasionally. Dorset is one of its strongholds as it likes flowery downs and slopes and so the Purbeck Ridge and the sea cliff tops at places like Durslton and Portland Bill are good places to find them. They are quite a small butterfly and tend to fly close to the ground preferring soil and rocks as resting places.

    They have two broods here in the south. The first brood fly in May and June and the second brood briefly in September. They lay their eggs on wild strawberry where possible but later in the season and in September when there is no wild strawberry they use other related plants like creeping cinquefoil, silverweed, bramble and wild raspberry, all members of the rose family.

    The grizzled skipper is one of the few butterflies that overwinters as a hibernating pupae.

    Grizzle has several meanings but something 'grizzled' is streaked or mixed with grey which is an appropriate name for this butterfly. Looking at my hair I suppose that makes me grizzled too now?


  • Grizzled Skipper in Dorset: what your tweets tell us ...

    Post date: Monday, 8 April, 2019 - 21:02

    The grizzled skipper is the smallest of the skippers. It is a very active butterfly and difficult to follow in flight and it rarely visits flowers so it is not that easy to record. They do like to rest on bare patches of soil and that seems to be your best bet to get close to them. Once you get your eye in they are quite distinctive in flight and if you find one settled and it then flies off watch it closely and then you will recognise them when you see them by their flight behaviour. They can be found in a wide range of grassy habitats where the grass is not too long and where there are bare patches so look for them on chalk downs, dunes, heaths, disused railway lines and even in woodlands. They are not common but they cannot be described as rare either and can be fairly numerous where they do occur. 

    This species can be seen from as early as late March until mid-July and in some years one may encounter a second brood in August. The Nature of Dorset database has only eight records for 2017 and 2018 and certainly May and early June seems to be the best time for them here.

    There are records from thirteen sites in Dorset so far, mostly on chalk downland, and Giant Hill has produced the most reports, possibly because they fly at the same time as the Duke of Burgundy which attracts butterfly enthusiasts every year. I would certainly recommend Giant Hill on a warm May day as your best chance to get acquainted with the grizzled skipper.


Common Name Grizzled Skipper
Scientific Name Pyrgus malvae
Species Group Hesperid Butterflies Skippers
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Identification Notes
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Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Hesperid Butterflies Skippers