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Essex Skipper

Thymelicus lineola

  • Family: Skippers and Darts – Hesperiidae
  • Subfamily: Grass Skippers – Hesperiinae
  • Wing span: (Very) Small, 20–28 mm (0.78–1.09 in.). Smallest of the Grass skippers. Females larger than males.
  • Wing upper side: Orange. Males with thin dark stripe in middle of forewing.
  • Wing underside: Forewing orange, hind wing pale yellowish brown.
  • Habitat: Open, abundantly-flowered habitats with lots of grasses.
  • Flying time: Early July–mid-August.
  • Overwintering form: Egg.
  • Larval foodplant: Different kinds of grasses (Poaceae), e.g. couch grass (Elymus repens) and tufted hair-grass (Deschampsia caespitosa).

The Essex skipper is the most common of the Skippers and darts and can be found in southern and central Finland. It can be differentiated from the large skipper and the silver-spotted skipper by the way that its wing colour is uniform with no blotches. Its forewing has a thin and clearly-defined brown margin.

The Essex skipper flies erratically and quickly, although it is slower than its close relatives. Males fly around looking for females, who lay their eggs individually in the leaf-sheathes of grass plants, where the eggs overwinter. The following year’s caterpillar lives between two leaves that have been woven together.

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