Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola)
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2023 photographs highlighted in green. Click on any photograph to go to an enlarged picture, or simply scroll down the page.
Until 2006, I had never studied what I had assumed to be Small Skippers (T. sylvestris) closely enough to check if certain specimens were in fact lineola. The key differentiators are:
1) the underside of the tip of the antennal club - sylvestris is orange, lineola black - but this is not always clear-cut
2) the upf black border, well defined in sylvestris, slightly diffuse in lineola
3) the length of the sex-brand in the male, longer and stronger in sylvestris than lineola, and sometimes almost undetectable in lineola. The lineola sex brand is broken at v2 and does not reach v3, according to T&L.
This species was previously known as Thymelicus lineolus.
I originally labelled this as sylvestris and a male based on body shape even though I cannot see any sex brand - sometimes they get lost in the creases, especially the weaker sex brand of lineola. The black upf border is strong but rather undefined at the inner edge, suggesting lineola, and the underside of the antennal club, not very clear from this angle, looks as if it could be orange even though it is largely black on the upperside, slightly extending slightly to the underside tip. Compare with 5441 where the entire antenna is orange (=sylvestris). I now believe it more likely to be lineola, the key factors being the antennal tip being perhaps more black at the tip than orange, and, perhaps most significantly, the very weak sex brand. Thanks to Olli Vesikko for the comments that led to a review of this photograph.
the diffuse upf margins and weak sex brand plus the just-visible dark underside of the antennal club, strongly indicate lineola. Also the sex brand is broken at v2 and clearly does not reach v3.
|26423||M||exceptionally wide and dark upf margins, quite diffuse where it meets the orange. The short sex brand confirms lineola.||1400|
|40589||M||not a great shot, but I have endeavoured to show a close-up of the end of the antennal club, which is distinctly black all round. The proboscis seems to have an attached lobe maybe from nectaring on a flower which has such devices.||220|
|48551||?||a view of the underside of the antennal clubs, showing the clubs to be uniformly jet black. No identification doubts about this one.||1340|
a female based on body shape. Although the undersides of the antennae can't be seen, they look sufficiently dark to strongly indicate lineola. However, the upf back borders are quite neat and not fusing into the orange, which might hint at sylvestris. The sex brand clues to the identification of the male are not available in the female.
another dubious underside of an antennal club, and on balance I'll go for lineola as the tip seems black. The sylvestris I have seen have clearly orange antennal tips, but I'm not sure how consistent this is.