Dingy skipper is a curious little butterfly. It is drab and unassuming, rather like a dayflying moth in appearance. It has an erratic, skipping flight, making it difficult for the eye to follow. But if you are successful in following its flight, it will soon land and bask with its wings wide open, often on the flower head of ribwort plantain. It flies in spring, May and June, but needs warm, well sheltered sites. It is a localised species in Kilkenny, known from no more than a handful of sites, but undoubtedly this species is under-recorded. When I first moved to Kilkenny 18 years ago, it was known to occur in a small disused limestone quarry near Thomastown. My first visit to the site was a delight as I found it straight away but, I’ll admit, it was rather a challenge to separate it from the burnet companion, a day-flying moth with which it shares the site.
Since then I have found dingy skipper at a handful of previously unknown sites in Kilkenny, mostly along forest tracks on the higher ground to the south of the county. It makes me wonder have they always been there, or have dingy skipper eggs or larvae been transported with the limestone chippings brought in to make the tracks when the land was first afforested?
If so, I have benefitted from this, for on the high ground at Glencoum no more than 5km from where I live, there is a small isolated wooded area overlooking the beautiful Barrow valley. Here, dingy skipper are plentiful along one section of the somewhat overgrown forest track, and are a delightful butterfly to see so early in the year.
#1 Speckled Wood, #2 Dingy Skipper.