Southern Sage Skipper

Muschampia alto (Ochsenheimer, 1808)



A small dark brown, butterfly with white marks on its wings, found on waste ground. Key diagnostic features are on the upperside of the forewing. There are three postdiscal white spots (S6-S8, near the wing tip), and the postdiscal white spot in S2 is close to the white spot in S3, which enables separation from the closely related species of M. tessellum. The basal area of the wing has yellowish-grey hairs. The wing margins are chequered. Male and female are very similar. Can be confused with other similar marked skippers in the genera Carcharodus, Muschampia and Pyrgus.

Habitat Requirements

In hot dry grassy stony locations, the host plant can make up the dominant vegetative structure of the habitat and here, this species is often the only butterfly flying.

Larval Foodplants

Jerusalem Sage Phlomis fruticosa.

Dan Danahar believes he has seen P. samia on the island and if this could be confirmed its possible this could also be a host plant for this species of butterfly, although not a significant one.


This skipper dominates many butterfly communities, flying in the blistering heat of mid summer. Many thousands of individuals may be observed at sites where its abundance is high, particualarily in the uplands of the island.

In Corfu it appears to have a wide distribution which most probably reflects the broad distribution of its host plant.

This is a territorial species, with males that perch on Pholomis flower heads, intercepting any flying insects that enter its visual range.

It is curious to watch them slightly turning their heads to scan as much of the their surroundings as is possible, without moving their limbs and or their bodies. Presumably they are awaiting the passage of females through their territories.

*The information provided in the tables below is based on verified sightings of the Southern Sage Skipper submitted via this website since 1st January 2021.

First and Last Sightings

Year First Last/latest # Days
2023 30/06/2023 14/10/2023 106 days
2022 28/07/2022 15/10/2022 79 days
2021 17/02/2021 11/10/2021 236 days

Number of Observations

Year Number of observations
2023 280
2022 264
2021 185
Grand Total 729

Distribution Map

Distribution maps for this species are currently unavailable.

Flight Times for the Southern Sage Skipper (2023)

The chart below shows flight data by month for 2023

Flight Times for the Southern Sage Skipper (All Data)

The chart below shows flight data by month since 1st January 2021


  • Vernacular/Common Name: Southern Sage Skipper
  • Family: Hesperiidae (Latreille, 1809)
  • Sub-family: Pyrginae (Burmeister, 1878)
  • Tribe: Carcharodini (Verity, 1940)
  • Genus: Muschampia (Tutt, 1906)
  • Sub-genus: Muschampia (Tutt, 1906)
  • Species: alto (Ochsenheimer, 1808)


For a list of references, please see our bibliography page.