Essex Skipper Thymelicus lineola
Like the Small Skipper, this is another grassland species, It is very similar to the Small Skipper but the male forewing has a straight black diagonal line in the centre rather than a slightly kinked one and the tips of the antennae are black beneath – this is never easy to see!
The tussocky grass Cock's-foot is one of the favoured larval foodplants.and the adults visit a variety of plants to take nectar, with thistles and knapweeds often used.
Essex Skippers, as the name suggests, were first identified as a separate species in Essex though they were probably more widespread but had been overlooked. Certainly they have been spreading west and colonised Somerset fairly recently. For this reason and because of the difficulty in separating them from Small Skippers, their distribution in the county is still uncertain and so we have no reliable map yet.
Images l-R: male, showing diagonal dark line on forewing; underside; caterpillar.
Flight period: July and August