Photo ©2010, David Miller
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Large Skipper - Ochlodes sylvanus
Family - Hesperiidae
Was - Ochlodes venatus
The Large Skipper is a common grassland butterfly of the Palaearctic ecozone that flies between May and September. Found in the UK but only as far as southern Scotland, through Europe, China and Japan in areas with long grasses, bushes, woodland edges or trees and often associated with damp areas. It has a wingspan of 30–35mm (1.2–1.4in) with the upper wings of both sexes being brown with orange spots and patches but the male has a black androconial line of scent scales, whilst the female has brighter spots and patches. The underside of the wings in both sexes is a yellowish brown with paler spots and tinged with greyish green. The antennae of the Large Skipper is hooked at the end which helps to distinguish it from other Skippers. It visits various flowers but is apparently particularly partial to Thistles and Bramble.
It usually has one brood but may have two in more southern areas, the eggs are laid on the underside of the food plants in "tents" formed by a rolled up blade of grass, hatching in around two weeks. They are normally laid on Cock's–foot and False Brome, but they will also occasionally use Purple Moor–grass – Molinia caerulea, Yorkshire Fog, Common Reed and other grasses and reeds. The caterpillar which is faintly hairy can attain a length of 29mm (1.15in), is an overall dark bluish–green with a large bulbous black head on a white–yellow "collar", it has a dark line down the back and a very feint yellow stripe along the side. It hibernates as a caterpillar.
The Large Skipper was for a long period known as Ochlodes venatus, but this is now the name of a Far Eastern relative, however it is still disputed as to whether this species should be considered a distinct species or included in O. venatus as a subspecies.
Agassiz #57.009, Bradley & Fletcher #1531
Photo ©2010 Lucarelli
Photo ©2014 Andreas Eichler
Photo ©2009 Hectonichus
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