Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan 28–32 mm; the fringes not banded. Medium built to heavily built; medium-bodied to long-bodied; large-headed. The eyes glabrous. Antennae reaching noticeably less than halfway to the wingtips to reaching about halfway to the wingtips; inserted fully one half the width of the head apart. The antennal clubs gradual-elongate; curved; slightly flattened to not flattened (tapered to the tip); not hooked at their tips. Labial palps ascending (pointed). Having all 6 legs fully developed and operational for walking. Fore-legs with a tibial epiphysis. Tibiae of middle legs without spurs. Posterior tibiae 2-spurred (without middle spurs).

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt. The outer and hind margins angled at about 100 degrees. The outer margins convexly curved. Uppersides of the forewings dark fuscous; without a discal mark; patterned in orange, with three or four sub-confluent spots in the disc before the middle, and a sub-terminal series of orange-irrorated spots.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly rounded; with the outer margins not scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings dark fuscous; conspicuously patterned; with a conspicuous discal mark; dark fuscous, patterned in orange with a roundish discal spot before the middle, two beyond the middle, and as subterminal series of small spots.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings pale orange, a pallid reflection of the upperside with most of the dark pigment lacking.

Undersides of the hindwings darker basally and discally than the undersides of the forwings, orange-irrorated, with large rounded paler spots, the latter sometimes greenish-tinged; without metallic markings.

Wing venation. Forewings 12 veined; without basally dilated veins. Forewings with 1 tubular anal vein; the anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only; vein 1b simple. Forewings with a discal cell; vein 2 departing from the cell less than three-quarters of the distance from its base (from below the middle). Forewing veins all separate.

Hindwings 8 veined; with a praecostal spur; with 2 anal veins; exhibiting vein 1a; the anal veins comprising 1a and 1b. Hindwings with a closed discal cell; the transverse vein complete. 6 veins arising from the hindwing cell (vein 5 absent). The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another. The hindwings lacking vein 5, 8 arising near the base of the cell and rapidly diverging.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs more or less hemispherical; more or less smooth. The larvae hairless; concealed feeders (living in a tubular chamber constructed by drawing together a leaf blade). On Brachypodium sylvaticum.

Pupae smooth and rounded; concealed (in a tent-like structure constructed from leaves of the food-plant).

British representation. 1 species. Carterocephalus palaemon (Chequered Skipper). The adults abroad May and June.

Status in Britain. Indigenous.

Distribution. Northern England, English Midlands, East Anglia, Wales, southeast England, central southern England, southwest England, Isle of Wight, and Ireland. Frequenting open places. Habitats calcareous and non-calcareous.

Classification. Superfamily Hesperoidea. Hesperiidae.

Illustrations. • Carterocephalus palaemon (Chequered Skipper): photos. • Carterocephalus palaemon (Chequered Skipper): egg and larva. • Larvae of C. palaemon and other Hesperiidae: Duponchel (1849).

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2008 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies. Version: 16th May 2016.’.