Grizzled Skipper - Herts & Middx Butterfly Conservation
Grizzled Skipper (m) 2011 - Miles Attenborough Grizzled Skipper (f) 2006 - Sandra Standbridge

Grizzled Skipper

Pyrgus malvae

UK status

Restricted rare resident

Grizzled Skipper branch distribution

Distribution and Status

In the 1980s most colonies appeared to be concentrated in central eastern Hertfordshire and around Tring but now have been lost probably due to their habitats being overgrown. However, new colonies were discovered at Waterford Heath and Rickneys Quarry at the end of the last century and are now two of the best sites in our branch area along with Aldbury Nowers. The highest numbers in 2022 were recorded in east Hertfordshire between Hertford and Watton-at-Stone where work is being carried out with landowners to encourage this rare butterfly to thrive.

Habitat Requirements

The Grizzled Skipper favours sheltered spots on flower-rich grassland on chalk slopes, roadside verges, woodland clearings, railway embankments, gravel pits and brownfield sites

Larval Foodplants

Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca, Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria, Creeping Cinquefoil Potentilla reptans. Barren Strawberry P. sterilis, Tormentil P. erecta, Silverweed P. anserina, Raspberry Rubus idaeus and Bramble R. fruticosus are also sometimes used

Adult Food Sources

Common Birds-foot Trefoil Lotus corniculatus, Common Dandelion Taraxacum officinale , Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris

Behaviour/Observation notes

Grizzled Skippers are active throughout the day when the sun is out and their rapid flight makes them hard to follow over vegetation. Look out for bare patches or areas of very short grass on which they may settle to bask or yellow flowers on which they will take nectar. It can be confused with the Mother Shipton moth which is similar in colouring and size and inhabits the same places

Grizzled Skipper branch phenology

Life History

The first specimens usually emerge by the middle of April with the flight period extending until the middle of June with a peak around the second week of May. Eggs are laid on the underside of a leaf in warm situations, next to bare patches, for example. On emergence, the larva constructs a web across the midrib of a leaf on which it feeds. When fully grown, it builds a cocoon within which the pupa is formed at the base of the vegetation. The pupal stage lasts about 9 months including the winter

Further information

Photo gallery
Branch Annual Report (2022)
Identifying Skippers
More on life cycle and status
UK distribution map
Full list of larval hostplants (Hesperidae)
Stevenage butterflies - additional notes


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