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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

28 June, 2010

Lulworth Skipper (Thymelicus acteon)

This is Dorset's very own butterfly, named after the place where it was found, Lulworth in the Isle of Purbeck. It occurs all along the Dorset coast but most noticeably along the cliffs from Ballard Down to White Nothe Point. It once occurred on most of the Purbeck Ridge too, from Ballard Down to Lulworth but sadly it now seems to have disappeared totally from this area. Whilst is becoming scarcer, where it occurs it can be an abundant species.

The other thing with Lulworth Skipper seems to be that it is emerging as an adult sooner than it used to. It used to be around only for a couple of weeks in early August but now report in mid June are far from uncommon. Their time on the wing has extended and they can be still seen in August.

The main feature of this little member of the skipper family is the 'rays of golden sunshine' on the wings. It is about the same size as its two close relatives, the Small Skipper and the Essex Skipper and so those golden rays are importnat as diagnostic features.

Whilst the adult insect loves to feed on Knapweed (as in this photo) it can also be frequently seen on other members of the thistle family as well as Restharrow and Wild Marjoram. The larvae feed on many species of grass which is why rough downland suits it as its preferred environment.