A couple of weeks ago I posted about several recent butterfly sightings, including one of the Large skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus). Today we have my first 2016 sighting of a Small skipper (a completely separate species, Thymelicus sylvestris), which I was lucky enough to see and photograph at the cemetery last Sunday. It’s often difficult to tell the Large (below, left) and Small (below, right) apart when they’re flying but, in these photos, you can clearly see the differences in the markings on their upper wings. The colours of both skippers remind me of golden amber, especially when the sunshine touches them.
Apparently, the Small skipper’s eggs usually hatch in late summer, after which the wee caterpillars overwinter within the grass stalk where their eggs were originally laid. Come spring, they spin themselves a little grass shelter that helps protect them from predators, initially only popping out at night to feed but emerging more often during the day as they grow larger. They pupate in May and June, before appearing, often in large numbers, as beautiful butterflies in July. My Small skipper was true to form, basking on grass in the warm sunshine, allowing me to get lots of lovely photos.