You are here

Large Skipper

Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

A common skipper found on grasslands, open spaces and especially on the edges of woodland where there is lots of shrubby vegetation June until early September.


  • Large Skipper: a vein creature

    Post date: Wednesday, 22 April, 2015 - 00:00

    The large skipper (Ochlodes venata) is the most common member of the skipper family and can be found on grasslands, open spaces and especially on the edges of woodland where there is lots of shrubby vegetation. Adults can be seen throughout most of the summer from June until early September.

    The Latin name of venata gives a clue as how to identify this butterfly as the male has a dark, almost black vein running across the fore wings. It is also rather patchy, an orange and brown pattern whereas the other common skipper, the small skipper has a much more consistent orange all over the wings with a dark border. Naturally the large skipper is also larger than the small skipper!

    The male large skipper can be quite territorial, a bit like a dragonfly, settling on a prominent piece of vegetation in the middle of its patch and then swiftly launching itself to deter intruders.

    The food plants of the large skipper larvae are cocks-foot and slender false-brome, both common grasses.


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

    Post date: Friday, 5 April, 2019 - 21:16

    The large skipper is probably the most frequently encountered member of the skipper family. It can be found in grassy habitats which can include roadside verges and open areas and so is vulnerable to over zealous activity by councils! However, it also likes woodland edges, paths and rides where there is tall grass for the female to lay her eggs. The large skipper is also the most frequent visitor of the skipper family to gardens and can benefit from a bit of untidiness where grass is left to grow rather than regularly mown.

    The reference books suggest that large skippers emerge in early June, reach their peak in July then taper off in August and the weekly reports chart shows that in Dorset this pattern is probably true. Week 21 is the earliest report so far and that is usually the last week of May or the first week of June. Reports continue through until week 28 at the end of July but, as yet, there are no reports for August. The most reports so far are 9 in week 26 during the middle of July.

    There are casual reports and survey records from over 60 sites in Dorset and these are widely scattered across the county but the distribution map does really reveal a pattern of habitat preference other than perhaps a tendency for the large skipper to be seen mainly, but not exclusively, on chalk and limestone grassland. You are possibly going to encounter large skipper almost anywhere in Dorset in July.


Common Name Large Skipper
Scientific Name Ochlodes venata
Species Group Hesperid Butterflies Skippers
Interest Level
Look for
Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
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