On Thursday, Lisa Burge sent us this picture and a message via Facebook:
” What type of butterfly is this please? Seen in Southwick Country Park.”
Our butterfly expert, Ian Bushell, replied:
” It’s a Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus). Happy for it to be put on our 2019 list, We should see a lot more over the next month/6 weeks or so.”
This is a species that hibernates as a half-grown caterpillar and emerges in the spring to continue feeding and growing. The fully grown caterpillars pupate during May and June and emerge as adults just about now.
It is the first of the UK’s skippers to appear as an adult. It is a nectar feeder and visits many different species of flowering plant but is particularly attracted to bramble flowers.
The adult female lays her eggs singly on grass and reeds. The caterpillars, when they hatch, spin a web that curls their grass blade into a shelter. They feed inside their shelter at first but venture further away with each instar.
Conservation status: not threatened; distribution: spreading northwards
Click here for our 2019 butterfly list As yet, with the addition of the large skipper, we have only seen nine species in the park this year.