Chequered Skipper Butterfly: Identification, Life Cycle, and Behavior

Dive into the fascinating world of the Chequered Skipper Butterfly. You’ll delve into its identification, track its life cycle, and observe its behavior.

It’s time to uncover the secrets of this captivating insect.

Chequered Skipper butterfly

What is the Classification of Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

Spotting a Chequered Skipper Butterfly requires understanding the creature’s classification. This species carries the scientific name Carterocephalus palaemon and forms part of the Papilionoidea superfamily.

Papilionoidea superfamily includes all species widely considered as “true butterflies.” However, more specifically, the Chequered Skipper falls under the Hesperiidae family.

This family, commonly known as Skippers for their quick, darting flight patterns, includes around 3500 species worldwide.

Within the Hesperiidae family, the butterfly further belongs to the Heteropterinae subfamily and the Carterocephalus genus. Carterocephalus is the butterfly’s main genus, characterized by its preference for cool, temperate zones.

The classification of the Chequered Skipper Butterfly ties closely to its habits and characteristics. This butterfly represents one species out of the 11 within the Carterocephalus genus.

Therefore, recognizing it requires specific knowledge about its traits and behaviors, confirming its exciting classification.

What is the Distribution of Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

First, let’s set our sights globally. The Chequered Skipper Butterfly, known scientifically as Carterocephalus palaemon, is widely distributed across various regions in Northern and Central Europe. Notably, you’ll find them in countries like the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

Switching our perspective to a more local level, these butterflies typically inhabit open woodland, scrubland, and grassland regions. They’re especially fond of areas with tall grasses and plentiful Honeysuckle or Purple Moor-grass, their favourite food sources.

In Britain, their story is a bit more nuanced. Historically, Chequered Skippers were present in southern England. However, due to habitat loss, they became extinct in England around the 1970s. Presently they are being reintroduced in select woodland areas in England.

In Scotland, these charming insects are mainly found in the west, particularly in Argyll and Inverness-shire.

The population density of Chequered Skippers varies significantly depending on the locality. They are considered as ‘Near Threatened’ in Switzerland, ‘Vulnerable’ in Belgium, and extinct in Denmark.

Let’s review a neat table for a quick snapshot:

Location Status
Switzerland Near Threatened
Belgium Vulnerable
Denmark Extinct

As you can see, the distribution of the Checkered Skipper butterfly fluctuates greatly depending on the country and region.

Keep in mind, these populations are directly influenced by factors like habitat condition, availability of food sources, and human disruption.

What are the Main Characteristics of the Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

This butterfly is small and striking. The Chequered Skipper is known for its dark-brown dorsum with a distinguished, chequered pattern of orange or yellow blocks.

Its wingspan generally extends between 1 and 1.5 inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm), making it a diminutive yet noteworthy member of the Hesperiidae family.

Its underbody is no less impressive. The ventral side displays a spectacular mosaic of silver, green and brown hues, rendering the butterfly a masterpiece of nature itself.

This unique coloration is not just for aesthetics but serves a greater purpose of camouflage against predators in its woodland habitat.

Differing from other Hesperia species, the Chequered Skipper flaunts a pair of flamboyant antennae. These club-shaped antennae are seated on the tip of long stalks, providing an enhanced sensory perception.

Finally, another key characteristic to mention is their flight behavior. Extraordinarily agile, they exhibit a fast, erratic flight pattern, zipping low between plants and flowers with lightning speed.

This tends to make them a hard-to-spot species, but a treat to the watchful eye.

In a nutshell, the dappled colors, contrasting patterns, club-like antennae, and unruly flight habits are what define the essence of the Chequered Skipper Butterfly.

This makes them a fascinating subject for nature lovers and lepidopterists alike.

How to Identify Male and Female Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

When observing the Chequered Skipper Butterfly, note that differences between the sexes exist, albeit subtle.

Male Chequered Skippers are slightly smaller with a wingspan of 1.1 inches (28mm), compared to females at 1.3 inches (33mm).

Males typically feature a deeper, chocolate brown on their wings. This color is lighter on females. You’ll notice the signature white spots, creating a ‘chequered’ pattern, hence the name.

These appear sharper in males, yet softer and more diffuse in females.

  • Male: Deeper colored wings and sharper white spots
  • Female: Lighter coloration and softer spots

Inspection of the butterfly’s behavior can also help with its identification. Males are busy and restless, often seen flying and defending their territory.

Females, on the other hand, are more lethargic, typically seen laying eggs in grasses.

Remember, the key to correctly identifying these butterflies lies not only in size and color but in their behavior as well.

What is the Mating Ritual of Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

In the captivating world of Chequered Skipper Butterflies, the mating ritual is an astonishing sight. The male butterflies are in charge of the courtship, starting a striking airborne dance, fluttering all around the female to capture her attention.

In most instances, mating begins with a pursuit. The male chases after the female, showing a marvellous aerial ballet of loops and sweeping dives.

While the female may initially seem uninterested, it’s all part of the dance, testing the male’s mettle before she decides to reciprocate his advances.

Once the female is convinced of the male’s determination, she accepts his advances. A delicate mating process begins, intertwining their bodies and culminating in the female accepting the male’s gift of a ‘spermatophore’.

This is a protein-rich package that is key to the production and viability of her future eggs.

Interestingly, these butterflies prefer sunny, windswept grasslands for their mating rites. So, if you are looking to observe this unique spectacle, focus specifically in such areas in late morning or early afternoon.

Remember, patience is key when seeking to spot these intimate moments in the life of a Chequered Skipper Butterfly.

They’re a marvellous sight, each mating dance expressing the survival of this wonderful species in its own traditional, distinctive style.

What Does the Caterpillar of Chequered Skipper Butterfly Look Like?

To identify the chequered skipper butterfly in its larval stage is quite a fascinating task indeed. You will notice that the caterpillars of this species have a distinct visual variant that is almost reminiscent of a finely designed piece of jewelry.

To be specific, a caterpillar of the chequered skipper butterfly is characterized by a unique green color which often is speckled with tiny white spots.

This gives it a marble-like appearance and allows it to blend well with the foliage where it often resides.

One very notable characteristic is its silken shelter. The larva creates this distinctive shelter by folding the leaves of food plants, using a silky thread to secure this makeshift home.

This shelter serves not only as a protective mechanism but also as an effective camouflage.

Size wise, as it grows, the caterpillar expands to approximately 1.4 inches or 3.5 cm in length. Its body is cylindrical but slightly flattened, with a width that is proportionate to its length.

So next time when you’re exploring nature, remember these unique attributes. With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to identify the caterpillar of the chequered skipper butterfly!

What is the Life Cycle of Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

The life cycle of the Chequered Skipper Butterflyis composed of four stages: the egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult butterfly.

The female Chequered Skipper lays her eggs solely on the underside of grass blades, specifically Purple Moor Grass and Tor Grass, showing their deep-rooted association with these species.

The eggs hatch after approximately 10 days. The resultant caterpillars are initially green, blending with the grass blades.

As they mature, the caterpillars adopt a brownish hue, making them less conspicuous to predators. They feed mostly at night, nibbling on the edges of grass leaves.

The pupa stage, an intermediary stage between the caterpillar and adult butterfly, is where much of the transformation happens.

Pupation takes place in folded grass leaves, with the pupa being well camouflaged. This stage lasts for roughly two weeks, culminating in the emergence of the adult butterfly.

The adult butterfly stage is arguably the most recognised and fascinating stage. Here, the developed Chequered Skipper can take to the skies in search of a mate.

Males can be seen in the open, awaiting females, while females spend much of their time hidden in foliage.

On rare sunny days, the adults sip nectar from flowering plants. Their flight season, dictating their mere weeks of adult life, is typically restricted from late May to mid June.

So, their life, while fleeting, is a beguiling testament to resilience and adaptability.

What Is the Average Life Expectancy of a Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

A chequered skipper butterfly has a relatively short average lifespan. Typically, adult chequered skippers live for about 10 to 14 days.

This quick turnover of generations is significant. It allows rapid adaptation to their environment.

However, the entire life cycle from egg to adult takes roughly 30 to 40 days. Keep in mind, the eggs are laid in late spring, and the larvae develop throughout the summer.

Pupation happens in mid to late summer, and the adults emerge shortly after.

Remember, these timescales can be variable. They’re influenced by factors such as temperature, food availability, and specific local conditions.

What Does the Diet of a Chequered Skipper Butterfly Consist Of?

The diet of an adult Chequered Skipper butterfly may surprise you. Unlike many butterfly species that rely heavily on flower nectar, the Chequered Skipper butterfly prioritizes tree sap.

The sticky, sweet substance is their preferred source of energy. They often feed on the sap from trees such as oak or willow.

  • Oak Sap: This sap contains a nutritional balance that supports their energy needs. Moreover, oak sap also comes packed with minerals required for their overall development.
  • Willow Sap: This sap, in turn, serves as yet another valuable source packed with nutrients essential for the butterfly’s survival.

However, it doesn’t mean the butterfly shuns flower nectar entirely. They also sip nectar from different flowering plants as part of their diet. For instance, the adult butterfly likes to feed on nectar from bell heather and cross-leaved heath.

Additionally, Chequered Skipper caterpillars have a specific botanical diet. They munch on the leaves of false brome, a type of grass found in their habitat.

Also, the caterpillars feed exclusively on certain types of woodland grasses that grow densely in wooded areas.

Remember, the diet varies between the caterpillar and adult stages. Caterpillars have an all-vegetarian diet, while adults diversify with sap and nectar.

Thus, whether it’s the sap from trees, nectar from flowers, or leaves from specific types of grasses – the Chequered Skipper butterfly knows what’s best for its survival.

Which Plants Serve as the Primary Hosts for Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

The most favoured hosts for the Chequered Skipper Butterfly are indeed members of the grass family. Predominantly, they lay their eggs on Purple Moor Grass (Molinia caerulea) and False Brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum).

The butterfly depends on these specific grass types for almost their entire life stages, from egg, caterpillar to mature butterfly.

It’s essential to remember that, in the caterpillar stage, the larvae feed primarily on Purple Moor Grass. This grass is a primary source of nourishment, aiding in their growth and development.

Speaking about False Brome – it plays a different, yet equally significant role. When the larvae reach the stage of making a cocoon for overwintering, the False Brome grass is preferentially chosen for creating ties and supports.

This type of grass is not their source of food, but a secure and safe nesting spot instead.

Both these grass types occur more abundantly in shaded, damp woodlands and meadows. Thus, it’s no surprise that the Chequered Skipper Butterfly is more commonly seen in these lush green habitats.

Remember, the preservation of these specific grass types is remarkably crucial for the survival and proliferation of Chequered Skipper Butterfly populations.

Certainly, these grass types prove that they are highly indispensable components in the life cycle of a Chequered Skipper Butterfly.

What are the Unique Mimicry Behaviors in Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

The Chequered Skipper Butterfly displays intriguing mimicry behaviors that result in survival advantages. While many butterflies employ mimicry as a defense mechanism, the Chequered Skipper’s techniques are particularly noteworthy.

Firstly, their rapid, erratic flight pattern mimics that of more harmful butterfly species, deterring potential predators.

This behavior, known as Batesian mimicry, is a common survival strategy in several butterfly species.

Secondly, their unique coloration marking on the wings can make predators perceive them as poisonous species. Their checkered pattern of yellow and brown or black helps them blend in their surroundings, providing excellent camouflage.

This behavior, known as Crypsis, is another common form of mimicry seen in butterflies.

Collectively, these behaviors underscore the Chequered Skipper’s survival strategies, beautifully illustrating how butterflies adapt to and interact with the world around them.

These smart tactics show that their beauty isn’t merely superficial – it’s a clever survival strategy fashioned by evolutionary pressures over time.

What Are the Main Threats to Chequered Skipper Butterfly Populations?

The Chequered Skipper butterfly, like many insects, faces a raft of threats in its natural environment. Climate change is a significant concern, as shifts in weather patterns can drastically affect their lifecycle and distribution.

Longer, colder winters, erratic temperature fluctuations, and sudden changes in food sources can all take a toll.

Loss of habitat is another primary threat to these butterflies. They mainly inhabit wet, grassy meadows and their survival is contingent on the availability of these specific environments.

Deforestation, urbanization, industrialization, and agriculture expansion reduce these habitats, resulting in population decline.

Wherever they are, invasive species pose an ongoing threat. Introduction of new predators, pathogens, or competitors can disrupt the delicate balance of their ecosystems, often with dire results. The impact of invasive species can be profound and long-lasting.

Finally, pollution is also a major threat. Pesticides used in agricultural practices can unintentionally harm these butterflies, reducing their populations significantly.

Water pollution also impacts them indirectly by affecting their food sources and habitats.

  • Climate change: Impact lifecycle and distribution
  • Habitat loss: Limited availability due to deforestation, urbanization, etc
  • Invasive species: Disrupts their ecosystems
  • Pollution: Affects food sources and habitats

Despite these looming threats, efforts are being made to conserve the Chequered Skipper butterfly. Designated reserves have been established, breeding programs initiated, and legislation passed to protect their habitats.

Awareness is important, and everyone can do their part to ensure their survival.


In summary, the Chequered Skipper Butterfly is an amazing species with a unique life cycle and fascinating behaviors.

Preserving its habitat and understanding its ecology is key to its survival. Do you have any thoughts or experiences to share about the Chequered Skipper Butterfly?

Please leave a comment.

Butterflies   Updated: September 15, 2023
avatar Welcome to Insectic, a blog to learn about insects and bugs. I'm Richard, and I've created this website to share my experience, knowledge, and passion with others.

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