The Essex Skipper is very similar to the Small Skipper. Those with solid
black tips to the antennae are Essex Skippers, those with small oval orange to dark brown areas under the tips of the antennae are Small Skippers.
It is not always very easy to see that a Small Skipper with dark brown to black antenna tip patches is not an Essex Skipper.
The tip of the antenna of the Essex Skipper is more rounded and club shaped, in the Small Skipper it is more curved and slightly pointed.
If too much reliance can be placed on the colour patches alone on the antennae underside tips, those Small Skippers with darkish brown colour patches can easily be mis-identified as Essex Skippers.
The male wing stripe is generally broader and more diagonal on the Small Skipper, though the degree of difference in published illustrations is not always very distinct. The black wing borders are often more clearly defined in the Small Skipper, in the Essex Skipper they tend to blend in more gradually.
The tips of the undersides of the fore wings are tinted orange in the male Essex Skipper, and gray-buff in the female Essex Skipper and the Small Skipper.
There is only one brood per year. The principal food plant given is Cocksfoot, though other grasses are mentioned. Essex Skippers overwinter as eggs layed in the flowering stems of the grasses - so it is important not to cut long grass where it can be avoided. The eggs hatch in spring to become larvae feeding on the same grasses for a few weeks, before pupating and then emerging as adults in mid summer. Most are seen on the wing in July.