Dingy Skipper

Fast Facts

Latin name: Erynnis tages

Notable feature: An unassuming and potentially easily overlooked butterfly, sometimes mistaken for a moth.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Where in the UK: Found throughout the UK with restricted distribution in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) © Greg Hitchcock


The Dingy Skipper (Erynnis tages) is a small, native butterfly in the UK.  This grey-brown butterfly has mottled brown markings on its wings, complete with a row of white spots around the wing edges and a second row just above; it is incredibly well camouflaged.

It can be found in a variety of locations where its foodplants grow; habitats including chalk downland, heathland, woodland rides and clearings, coastal habitats such as dunes and undercliffs.  In urban areas, brownfield sites, including old quarries, railway lines and waste ground are the main habitat.

Although found across the UK this little butterfly is becoming increasingly rare.

  • Size: Up to 29mm wingspan
  • Life span: Annual life cycle; from egg to adult approximately a year
  • Diet:  The Dingy Skipper prefers yellow flowers to nectar (feed) on; such as Bird’s-foot Trefoil, buttercups, hawkweeds and Horseshoe Vetch.
  • Reproduction: The female Dingy Skipper will lay an egg at the base of the leaflets on the foodplant Bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) through from May to June. The eggs hatch within two weeks and the larvae begin feeding. They feed until August when they go into hibernation for the winter months. They pupate in April the following year and emerge as adults in the summer.
  • When to see: May and June.  More likely to see flying during the day and gathering in the late afternoon to roost on dead flower heads or grasses.
  • Population Trend:  Declining – the Dingy Skipper is a priority species across the UK.
  • Threats:  Loss of habitat; the Dingy Skipper requires open, sunny habitats.  Scrub encroachment and succession is a threat, as well as development and inappropriate habitat management
  • Fun Fact: The Dingy Skipper wraps its wings around flower heads when it is roosting, in a moth-like fashion, and is the only British butterfly to do this

How you can help: 

Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Dingy Skipper through specific projects, like our B-Lines project Get the Marches Buzzing and campaigns, but we need your help!

Join the Get the Marches Buzzing project in Telford where we will be working on sites that host populations of Dingy Skipper to clear scrub and plug plant Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

Join a recording scheme and log your finds – send any records/sightings to Butterfly Conservation or download the iRecord app and get recording!

Do remember that we rely on donations to continue our work.  If you have searched, found and learnt about our incredible invertebrates on our website, please do consider Making a Donation, Becoming a Member or maybe even making a purchase in our shop.  For more ideas on how to support our work find out how to Get Involved.  Thank you 🕷