Skip Navigation Links

Silver-spotted Skipper (Hesperia comma)

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

For example, clicking on one of the section titles below will show that piece of information. However, you can also choose to Show All the sections, or even Hide All, if you so wish.

Picture of Silver-spotted Skipper
© Nick Greatorex-Davies

The Silver-spotted Skipper is a rare butterfly in Britain occurring in discrete colonies on open sunny short chalk grassland, usually breeding where its larval foodplant Sheep's Fescue (Festuca ovina) grows next to patches of bare ground. In recent years it has colonised many unoccupied sites and has been observed egg-laying in short grassland in the absence of bare ground, probably a response to a warmer climate and therefore microclimate in the swards where it breeds. (For further details on this species see http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/).


Family : Hesperiidae

Status : Rapid increase

Status details :
Status since 1979 is Rapid increase with a increase of 931%
Status over the last 20 years is Stable with a decrease of -4.0%
Status over the last 10 years is Stable with a increase of 53%

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 :
When the scheme began in 1976 the Silver-spotted Skipper was recorded on just two BMS transects. This number has increased substantially and it has now been recorded at over sixty different sites. Similarly, abundances were low at the beginning and the Silver-spotted Skipper was listed as a UK BAP priority species, a status it has since had removed as it has shown a highly significant increase on monitored sites. This increase in range and abundance is thought to be partly due to climate change which has resulted in a warmer microclimate at ground level making more of its hostplant available in a suitable condition for oviposition and larval development. In addition rabbit grazing has increased which again has made more areas suitable for this species.

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

Abundance

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.


Coverage

In total, Silver-spotted Skipper has been recorded from 194 transects in the Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Of these, annual indices of abundance have been calculated from 90 sites, with an average index of 32 individuals per site.

For 41 of these sites, Silver-spotted Skipper has been recorded well enough to calculate annual indices of abundance in more years, allowing trends to be calculated.

In 2016, 2495 individuals were recorded from 38 sites, producing annual indices at 32 of these.


The UKBMS is run by  Butterfly Conservation (BC), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), in partnership with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), and supported and steered by Forestry Commission (FC),  Natural England (NE), Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The UKBMS is indebted to all volunteers who contribute data to the scheme.