Grizzled Skipper Pyrgus malvae (Fr. Hespérie de l'Ormiere) is a small day flying lepidoptera of a type known as a skipper. They are generally regarded as and included with butterflies, rather than moths, but they have antennae that terminate in hooked clubs rather than round ended clubs, so they don't look like other butterflies.
|I was rather surprised to encounter this individual on the street a couple of days ago.|
The Grizzled Skipper has been found to be a species complex, and individuals found in southern France are probably always the newly designated P. malvoides. In Indre et Loire it seems we have the northern species, P. malvae. They prefer open chalk grassland and woodland clearings where their caterpillar host plants, various strawberry family species, are likely to occur.
There are several lookalike species apart from the externally identical P. malvoides. It is always worth looking at them closely just in case the individual is one of the rarer species, but to be sure you have to use an identification key, carefully answering a series of questions about different aspects of the pattern on the wings.
|A Grizzled Skipper photographed several years ago on wet earth in our orchard, showing the characteristic molar shaped mark on the upperside of the hind wing |
They are one of the earliest butterflies on the wing in the spring, with a first generation appearing in April, and the second generation are still active in September or even October. It is most abundant in May, with much lower numbers seen in the other months.