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Large Skipper (Ochlodes sylvanus)

On this page, we have made available all the information we have for this species

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Picture of Large Skipper
© Nick Greatorex-Davies

The Large Skipper is a common butterfly that occurs in distinct colonies in sheltered uncut grassland in such situations as open scrub, along hedgerows and woodland rides and glades where its larvae feed on coarse grasses, particularly Cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata). The species is expanding its range in Britain though colonies continue to be lost within its range due to habitat loss. (For further details on this species see

Family : Hesperiidae

Status : Stable

Status details :
Status since 1976 is Stable with a decrease of -26.3%
Status over the last 20 years is Stable with a decrease of -8.3%
Status over the last 10 years is Stable with a increase of 14%

Log collated index plot

Species Log Collated Index Plot

This chart shows the index of abundance (LCI = Log Collated Index) over time. It shows fluctuations in populations from year to year, and is scaled so that the average index over the whole series is equal to 2 (horizontal line). For greater detail about how this index is derived, click on the green question mark above.

Trend description :
This is our most widespread skipper having been recorded on almost 1,200 different UKBMS sites since 1976 and in approximately 50% of transects annually. Its abundance on monitored sites is classed as stable, having fluctuated greatly over time and despite more sites showing declines than increases. In 2008, when many UK butterflies suffered declines because of a run of two extremely poor summers, Large Skipper produced its worst annual index but since then has bounced back to above average numbers. The massive increase at Monks Wood is linked to a dramatic increase in coarse grasses on which the larvae feed.

This map shows the distribution between 1995 and 2016. Data is derived from the Butterflies for the New Millenium dataset via the NBN Gateway

Phenology plot
Species Phenology Plot

Phenology plot

This chart shows the average number of butterflies seen on transects between Arpil and October across all sites (fitted values from a Generalised Additive Model). The blue line gives average counts over the full BMS series (1976 to date) and the red line gives the average for the last year.

Species abundance map


This map shows symbols for the mean abundance at transect sites, with the colour of the symbol reflecting the level of abundance. Means are over all years. Grey background squares are the occupied cells as shown by the Butterflies for the New Millenium over the previous ten year period.


In total, Large Skipper has been recorded from 816 transects in the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Of these, annual indices of abundance have been calculated from 933 sites, with an average index of 25 individuals per site.

For 450 of these sites, Large Skipper has been recorded well enough to calculate annual indices of abundance in more years, allowing trends to be calculated.

In 2018, 12482 individuals were recorded from 508 sites, producing annual indices at 414 of these.

The UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme is organized and funded by Butterfly Conservation (BC), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). The UKBMS is indebted to all volunteers who contribute data to the scheme.