Insects of Britain and Ireland: butterflies

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Adults. Wingspan 29–36 mm; the fringes not banded. Medium built to heavily built; medium-bodied to long-bodied; large-headed. The eyes glabrous. Antennae reaching about halfway to the wingtips; inserted fully one half the width of the head apart. The antennal clubs gradual-elongate; not flattened; minutely 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 4-spurred (with middle spurs).

Forewings. Forewings apically blunt. The outer and hind margins angled at about 100–110 degrees. The outer margins convexly curved. Uppersides of the forewings dark brown to orange-brown, or fuscous; contrastingly dark-veined, or contrastingly dark-veined to not conspicuously dark-veined; with a conspicuous discal mark to without a discal mark; fuscous but very closely irrorated brownish-orange except for the dark veins and termen, the anterior half, discal spot and a postmedian series of irregular spots brownish orange, in the male with a strong blackish oblique streak below the middle of the disc.

Hindwings. Hindwings broadly trapezoidal, or broadly rounded; with the outer margins not scalloped. Uppersides of the hindwings dark brown to orange-brown, or fuscous; conspicuously dark-veined, or conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; conspicuously patterned; with a conspicuous discal mark to without a discal mark (the transverse vein more or less conspicuous); colour-patterned like the forewings, but spots absent on the dorsal third.

Undersides of wings. Undersides of the forewings with the upperside colour-patterning pallidly reproduced: greenish-ochreous-yellow instead of fuscous basally and apically, and yellowish to pale orange medianly, with obscure paler blotches and spots; conspicuously dark-veined, or conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined.

Undersides of the hindwings less orange-tinted than those of the forewings, with greenish-ochreous-yellow replacing the fuscous of the uppersides, and with faint paler spots reflecting the brownish orange of the uppersides; conspicuously dark-veined, or conspicuously dark-veined to not dark-veined; without metallic markings.

Wing venation. Forewings 12(–13) veined; without basally dilated veins. Forewings with 1 tubular anal vein to with 2 tubular anal veins; the anal veins of the forewings representing 1b only, or comprising 1b and 1c (in that 1c is conspicuous, and tubular at the base); 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 somewhat short of halfway). All the forewing veins separate.

Hindwings 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. 6–7 veins arising from the hindwing cell (vein 5 being quite conspicuous, but reduced). The cell-derived hindwing veins all arising independently of one another.

Eggs, larvae, pupae. Eggs hemispherical (with a small apical depression); more or less smooth. The larvae hairy; concealed feeders (constructing grass tubes). On Gramineae.

Pupae smooth and rounded; brown with darker wing-cases and a darker dorsal suffusion; concealed (in a cocoon incorporating grass material).

British representation. 1 species. Ochlodes faunus (Large Skipper). The adults abroad June to August.

Status in Britain. Indigenous.

Distribution. Northern Scotland, southern Scotland, 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. • Ochlodes faunus (Large Skipper): photos. • Ochlodes faunus (Large Skipper, male: Giles Watson, photos). • Ochlodes faunus (Large Skipper, female), in characteristic hesperiid resting pose: photo, Giles Watson. • Ochlodes faunus (Large Skipper): egg, larva, pupa. • Ochlodes faunus: neuration.

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.’.