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Skippers

Fullstop swift (Caltoris cormasa) Doi Chiang Dai, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Fullstop swift (Caltoris cormasa) Doi Chiang Dai, Chiang Mai, Thailand

If skippers were dogs, I think they would be pugs!  Skippers are stocky little butterflies with hooked antennae, large eyes and a rapid, bobbing or darting flight.

The Narrow-banded Velvet (Koruthaialos rebecula) with characteristicd hooked antennae
The Narrow-banded Velvet (Koruthaialos rebecula) with characteristic hooked antennae

There are about 3,500 butterflies in the Family Hesperiidae, including skippers, skipperlings, darters, flats,  awls, awlets, and a type known as policemen.  There are only eight species in the UK, and some are quite restricted in distribution.  The small green caterpillars of these UK species mainly feed on grasses.

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) male Bedfordshire
Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris) male Bedfordshire

In contrast to our relatively poor skipper diversity, there are many more species in the tropics; for example, 310 or 311 species in the Family Hesperiidae have been recorded from Thailand (1, 2).  They include butterflies with a host of attractive common names, including: Hoppers, Bobs, Aces, Demons, Flitters, Lancers, Palmers, Darts, Flats, Awls and so on (see below and also these websites with some beautiful photographs: 3-8).

The Clavate Banded Demon (Notocrypta clavata clavata)
The Clavate Banded Demon (Notocrypta clavata clavata) Thailand

Flats, so-called because they hold their wings flat while resting (!), are hesperiids in the subfamily Pyrginae.  They are relatively fast-flying butterflies, often found on the undersides of leaves.

Dark Yellow-banded Flat (Celaenorrhinus aurivittata aurivittata Moore, 1878) Thailand
Dark Yellow-banded Flat (Celaenorrhinus aurivittata aurivittata Moore, 1878) Thailand

Skippers are not the most colourful or exotic species of butterfly, but there are many highly attractive and interesting species.  One on the best sites on the internet is the Butterflies of Singapore, which includes some very fine close-up photographs of skippers (8).

1. http://www.malaeng.com/blog/?cat=64

2.  Butterflies of Thailand by Ek-Amnuay, P.

3. http://www.thaibugs.com/?page_id=200

4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jan_f_rasmussen/sets/72157633356889862/

5. http://flickrhivemind.net/Tags/hesperiidae,thailand/Interesting

6. http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/family.php?name=Hesperiidae

7.  http://norfolkbirderinthailand.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/chiang-dao-butterflies-march-2013.html

8. http://butterflycircle.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=hesperiidae

rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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