Monday, 3 August 2015

Small and Essex Skippers.

Small Skipper (Male)

All transect walkers have been requested to make more effort in distinguishing between two very similar species, the Small and Essex Skippers, based on the following slightly different field marks.

Small Skipper: Undersides of the tips of the antennae are orange-brown. The male has a slightly curved, conspicuous sex brand on each of its upper fore-wings. both sexes are very similar.
Essex Skipper: Undersides of the tip of the antennae are black. The male has short, straight, inconspicuous sex brands.
Plus the females of both species are plain orange and the under-wings of both sexes are very similar.

So for me this is certainly not an easy task unless any individual is perched with its wings open and even then you may need a magnifying glass or a good view of the underside of the antennae through close focusing binoculars, which I don't yet posses. So wherever possible I often resort to grabbing a shot or two to review on the laptop later but even this approach doesn't always provide conclusive evidence.

The first three images are all of a male Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).

My identification of the next image, based on the underside colour of the antennae, is a female Small Skipper.

And finally just by way of comparison the last, somewhat grainy image is a male Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) with a small, straight sex brand on the wing.

Both species should still be on the wing during August and I'm sure I'll have a few more tricky encounters to unravel their true identities! [All images shot handheld using 70-300mm lens with 1.4x converter]

Linking to:
Nature Notes hosted by Michelle; 
Through My Lens, a new meme hosted by Mersad.


  1. Love that second image, Frank!

  2. all pretty insects and wonderful images of them.

  3. A very timely post for me Frank, Excellent tips there.

    I've recently posted what I thought was an Essex Skipper on a Facebook group, Butterflies UK. The general consensus was an 'Essex'. Quite confusing aren't they.

  4. Oh Dear That is complicated Frank but you seemed to manage it very well and with lovely shots.

  5. Wonderful. These macros are really hard to do and pull off, but you manage very well. I invite you to share your post at my new photo meme that I have started just now on my blog. Link is down below. Thanks!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  6. Nature sure doesn't make it easy for us Frank. You've captured some great images here, they show off the differences perfectly....[;o)

  7. These macros are fantastic! A butterfly is so close I even can see her eyes! And she is beautiful!

  8. What a pretty skipper, awesome macro shots! Enjoy your new week ahead!

  9. The skippers are so challenging to identify. I love the macro shots and that you were able to see them better... Thank you for linking in... Michelle

  10. Absolutely gorgeous photos! And your ID info is wonderful! Thanks for another great post!

  11. I just love their big eyes! They look so cute and friendly.


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