Chequered skipper butterfly

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Chequered skipper butterfly

The chequered skipper not to be confused with the large chequered skipper, is a small woodland butterfly in the family Hesperiidae. This butterfly can live in grasslands. The upperside of the butterfly is brown with orange spots and on its underside the chequered skipper is orange with brown spots.

Chequered skippers are found throughout the United Kingdom and other European countries, but seen locally in Japan, Canada, and the United States. In North America the chequered skipper is known as the arctic skipper. The size of the chequered skipper ranges from 19 to 32 mm with females being larger. In the 1970s, the chequered skipper went extinct in England due to the new management of the woodlands.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Clade: Euarthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Hesperiidae
  • Genus: Carterocephalus
  • Species: C. palaemon
  • Binomial name: Carterocephalus palaemon

Chequered skipper Introduction

This colourful skipper is distinguished from all other skippers by the numerous yellowish spots found on its upperside – resulting in a chequered appearance that gives this butterfly its name. Like most skippers, this is a fast-flying butterfly, and its chequered markings make it very difficult to track when in flight.

This butterfly does not exist in discrete colonies populations are generally spread over wide areas of habitat. The Chequered Skipper is confined to north-west Scotland where it was first discovered in 1939 at Loch Lochy in West Inverness-shire, where its distribution is centred on Fort William and where the larval foodplant is Purple Moor-grass.


The butterfly favours south-facing, sheltered areas where the larval foodplant, Purple Moor-grass, and nectar sources grow in damp grassland. Sheltered sites are often on the edge of woodland, where the foodplant flourishes in richer soils. Sites are also often situated beside a loch or river. The habitat also typically contains tall shrubs that provide perches for males defending their territory.

Chequered skipper biology

A single generation is produced each year; the adult flight period occurs between the third week of May to the end of June. Eggs are laid singly on a blade of grass, and hatch after ten days or so. The caterpillar creates a tube by spinning the edges of the grass-blade together; it emerges from this shelter in order to feed above it.

Below the shelter it makes notches in the leaf, which may help to retain nutrients and prevent defensive chemicals from entering the region above the shelter. Towards the end of September the caterpillar creates another, larger shelter consisting of a number of leaves, in which it hibernates, emerging the following spring. It does not feed at this time, but pupates amongst vegetation. The adults emerge towards the end of May.

Chequered skipper Size and Family

  • Family – Skippers
  • Small Sized
  • Wing Span Range (male to female) – 29-31mm

Caterpillar Foodplant Description

The main foodplant in Scotland is Purple Moor-grass (Molinia caerulea). In England most records were on False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), though a range of grasses may have been used as they are in continental Europe.

Also More: Chalk Hill Blue butterfly

Chequered skipper images

Image by Erik Karits from Pixabay

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